Russia: Student’s Anti-War Stance Results in Payout

Russia Ukraine Asia Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 29, 2023

Russia - Ukraine war

Following a recent decision of a court in Russia’s southwestern Kaluga region, a St. Petersburg university will have to pay compensation to Andrei Kotenko, a student who was suspended for his anti-war views, according to media reports.

As the media outlet iStories reported, Kotenko, pursuing journalism studies at St. Petersburg University of the Humanities and Social Sciences (SPbGUP), was suspended from the university last year in September.

The university said that the reason for the expulsion was his bad performance in classes, but the student’s lawyer Artem Klyga dismissed these reasons, saying the truth is that the university had expelled him because of his stance on Russia and its war in Ukraine, which he also showed through his Instagram posts.

The former student himself denied the school’s justification that he performed badly, saying he was among those performing the best in his class before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.

He said he had not encountered any issues with the university administration before, and it was only after he publicly expressed his anti-war views the situation took a sharp turn. Lawyer Klyga said that student representatives also approached Kotenko, telling him to stop declaring his opinion publicly.

The Moscow Times reports that Kotenko was invited to a private meeting with the university administration, during which he was confronted with printed copies of his Instagram posts advocating to stop the war in Ukraine.

“They printed every story, every post in color on A4 paper and asked me to comment on them,” he told iStories.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, forcing millions of people to leave Ukraine while many others decided to stay to defend their country. Since then, Ukraine has seen an exodus of students, including many international students who were enrolled at the country’s universities at the time.

Government data indicate that Ukrainian universities welcomed more than 76,000 students from 155 countries in 2020, the majority from India, followed by Morocco, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. Many students who were in Ukraine when the war started reported worse mental health after the events.

>> Inside the Traumatic Experience of Student Who Fled War in Ukraine: Psychologist Shares Insights

St Petersburg University is the oldest institution of higher education in Russia, established in 1724. It is home to more than 5,400 international students from 114 countries.

Among his many commitments since February 24, 2022, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky held virtual meetings several times with students in other countries, such as the UK, Ireland, and Canada.

In one of his addresses to students last year, Zelensky told students in Canada not to forget telling about what is happening in Ukraine.

>> List of Universities Helping Ukrainian Students

Image source: Ahmed Zalabany | Unsplash

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