Here are several stories I read this week which I think are of interest:
1. Aleksei Petrov, deputy dean of the department of history at Irkutsk State University and regional head of the electoral monitoring group Golos, was dismissed from his university job last week following an investigation by the local prosecutor. According to the university, Petrov had more than once been absent from campus on working days, and had rescheduled classes.
Not everybody accepts this story. The prosecutor investigated Petrov after receiving two complaints. One, from a ‘concerned citizen’ named Sergei Poznikov, alleged that the professor was engaging in political activity at the expense of his professional duties. A second, anonymous, complaint alleged that Petrov is ‘an excessively liberal-minded historian’ who ‘publicly presents and promotes insufficiently patriotric views during his lectures.’ Some therefore think that Petrov’s dismissal is politically-motivated.
In far-off Ottawa, I can’t say which version of events is true. Perhaps there is a bit of truth in both of them. But some details are disturbing. Why is a professor’s schedule a matter for the public prosecutor not the professor’s immediate supervisor? And why would a prosecutor feel that it was his business to investigate a professor for being ‘excessively liberal-minded’? This is a story that seems to merit deeper investigation.
2. The Ukrainian Minister of Culture, Evgeny Nishchuk, made a fool of himself during a television interview, when answering a question about why the south-east of the country had not accepted Ukrainian culture. Nishchuk said:
The situation in the east and south is an abyss of consciousness. Moreover, when we speak of genetics in Zaporozhe, in Donbass, these are imported towns. There’s no genetics there, these are consciously imported.
‘Ukraine’s Minister of Culture spoke of the “genetic impurity” of the inhabitants of Donbass’, ran the headlines in the Russian press immediately afterwards. Ukrainian officials regularly complain about Russian ‘propaganda’, but they then go out of their way to hand Russian ‘propagandists’ free gifts. Oleg Liashko, the leader of Ukraine’s Radical Party, called Nishchuk an ‘idiot’. For once, I have to agree with him, but sadly for Ukraine, this is not an isolated incident of ministerial idiocy.
3. Fortunately, salvation for Ukraine has arrived in the form of 23-year old law graduate Anna Kalynchuk, who has been appointed to head the lustration department which is charged with purging the Ukrainian government of corrupt officials. This follows the appointment last week of a new Deputy Minister of the Interior, 24 year-old Anastasiia Deyeva. According to The Guardian:
‘Ukrainian politics looks increasingly like a circus show in which clowns come to succeed frustrated professionals,’ Kiev-based independent political analyst Vadim Karasyov said Wednesday. ‘The resignations of top professionals and new scandalous appointments send a bad message both to society and western partners who expect from Ukraine quite a different outcome of the reforms.’
Personally, I’m inclined to give Kalynchuk and Deyeva chance – youth isn’t necessarily a disqualification. Besides, can they really be much worse than the people like Nishchuk who are currently running the show?