Staunton, April 18 – Many people of good will in Russia and the West have been outraged by the near unanimity of the Russian Union of University Rectors in supporting Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, forgetting that rectors are appointed by and answer to the Kremlin rather than being chosen by the larger academic community.
To be sure, not all rectors signed the address to the throne supporting Putin’s military action to “achieve the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” But enough did to create the impression that most people associated with universities in Russia are on his side (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/04/even-kremlin-appointed-rectors-havent.html).
That is not the case, and the academic community of students, teachers and other employees of Novosibirsk State University has drawn up a public appeal calling for an immediate end to the war, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and an investigation of war crimes there (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/obshchestvennost/2022/04/soobshchestvo-novosibirskogo-gosuniversiteta-rezko-osudilo-voynu-v-ukraine).
“We, students, graduates, teachers and other employees of Novosibirsk State University, strongly condemn the war that the Russian state unleashed in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and express our support to the Ukrainian citizens …There are no reasonable grounds for this war, thousands of Ukrainian and Russian military and civilians of Ukraine have already died in it, and every day of hostilities brings more and more victims,” the petition begins.
The rector and the university establishment have ignored this action, but as of now, 133 people have signed the appeal, 109 listing their names for public distribution. Several are members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And the number of scholars and students signing continues to increase.
This appeal is a far better measure of how genuine scholars feel about Putin’s war than the declaration of rectors who live in fear that he could fire them. Those who have signed may suffer professionally, but even if they do, they can hold high their heads because they have remained on the moral high ground rather than descended into the Putin swamp.