Philosopher protests U of Debrecen’s decision to bestow honorary citizenship on Putin

September 4, 2017

Philosopher and leading researcher of totalitarian systems in Hungary, Mihály Vajda, has given back his professor emeritus title to the University of Debrecen after it bestowed an honorary citizenship on Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, reports Index.hu.

“Dear Mr. Rector, I regret to inform you that I am forced to resign from my professor emeritus title. I do not wish to maintain any contact with an institution that has Vladimir Putin as an honorary citizen,” reads Vajda’s announcement posted on his Facebook page.

Vajda, a former student of Marxist philosopher György Lukács, used to lead the Philosophy Department at the University of Debrecen. He was awarded the professor emeritus title upon his retirement. Vajda was also the director of the Institute of Philosophy at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences between 2005 and 2009, and has been a regular member of the academy since 2007. In 1998, Vajda was awarded the Széchenyi Prize, one of the highest awards in the Hungarian scientific life.

The senate of the University of Debrecen decided on August 18 to bestow the honor on  Putin in exchange for the prominent role allegedly bestowed by the Russian leader on the university in connection with the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant. The move met with strong opposition from the public. The think-tank Eötvös Károly Institute called the university’s decision outright unlawful.