Staunton, July 27 – Russia is far from being Nazi Germany in all details, but the situation scholars in that country find themselves in now is similar, Polina Deletich says, as many scholars in Russia now like many scholars in Hitler’s Germany have no desire to work in a country that has unleashed a war and restricted their contacts with colleagues abroad.
The London-based Russian scholar who founded the WeST (“We Save Talents”) organization to help scholars and advanced students in the Russian Federation and also in Belarus and Ukraine to find places in British and other Western universities has led an active and remarkably successful campaign on their behalf (holod.media/2022/07/27/science-isolation/).
She says that the anti-Hitler coalition benefited from that flow of scholars out of Germany not only because it limited the ability of the Nazi regime to make breakthroughs like the building of an atomic bomb but also because it helped power the rise of scholarship in key areas in other countries. The same thing can be true today.
Many more Russian scholars and advanced students would like to leave Russia for the greater freedom of the West and to avoid the stigma of being part of a country that has launched a war of aggression, Deletich says. But there are two groups of scholars inside Russia who still show little interest in leaving.
Some who don’t have elderly relatives they do not want to leave behind, while others seek to stand outside of politics. But according to the London-based researcher and activist, while scholarship must stand outside of politics, scholars cannot at least when it involves such important issues as war and peace.
If Western governments and foundations provide more opportunities for Russians to come, even more will, hurting the Putin regime and Russia for the long term and helping the West as well.