Students, employees urge rector at university in Arctic Russia to withdraw war-support

Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) in Arkhangelsk. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Strong-worded letter expresses a real fear of Russians being deprived of basic civil rights and that the country will enter a long period of isolation behind a new Iron Curtain.

A list of signatures are now circulating among students, alumni and employees at Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) in Arkhangelsk with a clear call to their rector Elena Kudryashova.

“We are deeply concerned about what is happening in our country,” the letter reads.

It was shortly after Russia launched its massive bloody war on Ukraine on February 24 that rector Elena Kudryashova signed a support call to Vladimir Putin. She followed up and posted an emotional call to her students saying “… today, the conduct of a special operation to liberate the Ukrainian land from nationalistic disgusting dirt is the fulfillment of a historical duty in the memory of victory generation.”

Criticism sparked

Rector Kudryashova’s warsupport sparked massive criticism from universities and research institutions around the circumpolar north that over the years have entered cooperation projects with Russia’s Federal Arctic university in Arkhangelsk.

The protest from the university’s own alumni, employees and students are even stronger.

“We were sad to learn that you signed the letter,” the people connected to NArFU write and argue that by signing Kudryashova is approving “the monstrous crimes against the population of Ukraine.”

“Our country has unleashed what is forbidden to be called: peaceful cities are being destroyed, people are dying, millions of Ukrainians are fleeing their homes, fleeing from what the leadership of our country calls “denazification”.

Using the word “war” in the context of Ukraine could send a person to 15 years in jail according to the new totalitarian laws put into force after February 24.

The letter not only urges rector Kudryashova to remove her signature from the support letter to Putin, but also expresses deep concern about domestic developments in Russia itself.

“We, the citizens of Russia, are being deprived of basic civil rights and freedoms and are entering a long period of isolation and a new Iron Curtain.”

Organize free and open discussions at university, say signatories 

Most European and North American partners to NArFU has ended exchange and cooperation projects after the Ukraine war started.

Second World War Memorial in Arkhangelsk. For rector Kudryashova, the “operation” going on in Ukraine is a continuation of the war taking place 80 years back in history. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The signatures encourage the Arkhangelsk rector to organize free and open discussions at the university where students, graduates, teachers and employees can voice their views on what’s happening.

“We ask this for the sake of the future,” the letter reads.

“The university should not turn into a body serving all – even the most unfair decisions of the government – it should not lose its autonomy. You have the power to prevent this,” the call to Elena Kudryashova says.

Last week, a community of students, professors, alumni and graduate students at Novosibirsk State University published a sensational statement calling for the Russian army to immediately stop the war and leave Ukraine.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Russian invasion of Ukraine puts ‘more attention onto the needs of the Arctic’, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s NATO membership decision needs more time, says PM, Yle News

Norway: Nordic countries halt all regional cooperation with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: A wave of war propaganda is gushing over Russian youth, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Finland and Sweden to “strengthen interaction with NATO”, Radio Sweden 

United States: U.S. Army unveils Arctic strategy as relations with Russia plunge into deep freeze, Radio Canada International

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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