Thursday, July 8, 2021

Putin Regime Now Striking Out at Organizations Helping Younger Scholars

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 3 – In the last few weeks, Russian prosecutors have labeled several Russian institutions which have been helping younger scholars “undesirable organizations,” and the Justice Ministry has denounced their employees as “foreign agents” who supposedly “threaten the foundations of the constitutional order” in the Russian Federation.

            Some of the young Russian scholars joke that they will have plenty of time in prison to write their dissertations, Yuliya Suguyeva, Oleg Zurman and Anastasiya Yasenitskaya of Zona Media say; but this is no laughing matter because the Kremlin thereby destroying not just their careers but the future of the country (

            On June 21, prosecutors labeled Bard College which has been working with young scholars at St. Petersburg State University; and a week later, it added four organizations from France and the UK: the Khodorkovsky Foundation, the Oxford Russian Foundation, the Future of Russia Foundation and the European Choice organization.

            And in the same period, it forced the liquidation of the Social Sciences Laboratory of the Oxford Foundation for supposedly being “a foreign agent.” Among those involved with these institutions with whom the three journalists spoke is Boris Grozovsky, who worked with the SSL and now edits the EventsAndTexts telegram channel. His comments reflect the feelings of all.

            According to him, “the Russian authorities, by labelling the activity of the Oxford Russian Foundation as undesirable and the SSL a foreign agent, haven’t reflected about what these organizations are doing. It is sufficient that Mikhail Khodorkovsky is involved in financing them.” He is an enemy, and so all his projects are too, in the minds of the powers that be.

            “There is no more logic in this than in the actions of Lukashenka who doesn’t like the work of the Goethe Institute which supports publishing and cultural and academic projects which do not have anything in common with politics,” Grozovsky says. Neither Moscow nor Minsk can tolerate any criticism of their actions.

            Anyone who criticizes them will sooner or later be labelled a foreign agent, he continues, reflecting “the completely Stalinist picture of the world” the Kremlin now has. And that will destroy the education of the young and the future of research both of which require freedom and free interaction with scholars from abroad to flourish.\

            Attending meetings with foreign scholars will become increasingly dangerous, and it appears likely that the Putin regime will soon focus on regulating publishing as well. That is what Lenin and Stalin did at enormous cost to the peoples of the USSR. Now the same thing is happening to the peoples of the Russian Federation.

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