University of Debrecen rector to launch inquiry into anti-Putin protest

September 21, 2017

“Elevating autocrats is unacceptable for us, it goes against everything that we represent through our professional academic work.” – Letter of protest over bestowing the Civis Honoris Causa award on Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin

The University of Debrecen will start an inquiry into four of its departments publicly criticizing the decision to award Russian President Vladimir Putin an honorary citizen title. Colleagues of three out of the four protesting departments have been summoned to a meeting scheduled for Thursday by Rector Zoltán Szilvássy, reports ATV.

“I notify you that there is going to be a meeting to explore the background and circumstances of the Faculty distancing itself from the awarding of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin honorary citizenship,” reads the letter signed by the dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology.

First the Department of Constitutional Law of the Faculty of Law protested the university senate’s decision to award Putin the Civis Honoris Causa award in a public statement that reads “Elevating autocrats is unacceptable for us, it goes against everything that we represent through our professional academic work.” Later the Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, the Department of Analysis and the Department of Physical Chemistry of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology also publicly voiced their objection to Putin’s award.

Rector Szilvássy played down the significance of internal opposition to the award. “I always stressed that there can be multiple opinions,” he told ATV. “It is very good that there are multiple opinions since we look at many things from different viewpoints, through different glasses.” Later he said on a program of the local TV channel that there is no problem with freedom of opinion but that it must determine whether such opinions should be made public, so the Rector’s Office had started an inquiry.

The invited colleagues were not informed about the meeting’s agenda or further purpose, but one affected employee jokingly told ATV that the rector might want to apologize in person for calling protesters “miserable, blind, helpless twits” on the local TV.

The university’s decision to award Putin its honorary citizenship was met with protest from students, teachers and other professionals alike.