Staunton, April 11 – Pro-Putin activists have redirected their fire from people in Sverdlovsk Region who are opposed to the war in Ukraine to faculty and staff of the Urals Federal University who they accuse of transforming that institution into “’a center for the preparation of color revolutions,’” according to Kseniya Kirillova.
Just as at the worst moments of Stalin’s Great Terror in 1937, she says, the Putinites are going after “university instructors who allow themselves to express views which are different from ‘the general line of the party’”.
One Putinite, Ilya Belous, has prepared a video that he says “’unmasks’” the “dangerous views” and destructive activities of the Urals Federal University generally and its rector Viktor Koksharov and several instructors specifically, including Andrey Makarevich.
In his video, Belous attacks Sergey Zykov, a mathematics instructor, as “’a liberal fascist’ who speaks ‘against the national course of Russia’” and promotes “’Western values’” to an unsuspecting student body. According to Zykov, “95 percent” of what the video says are “pure lies.” The picture of his office is the only thing that isn’t.
Putin activists in Yekaterinburg have already had two small results from their earlier attacks. They succeeded in blocking an exhibit of photographs organized by the British consulate showing Russia’s American and British allies during World War II. And they have prompted officials to continue persecution of a single mother whose crime is to post stories about Ukraine.
Another Putinite blogger, Sergey Kolyasnikov, has expanded on Belous’ attacks and gone after foreign consulates in general and that of the United States in particular. On his blog,he says that “we are observing an unprecedented growth in the activity of foreign ‘diplomats’” as well as that of “US agents of influence.
Such people, he says, are “penetrating into the key posts in the municipalities and regional administration and conducting aggressive propaganda in the higher educational institutions.” The Urals are in danger, Kolyasnikov concludes, calling on Moscow and Russians everywhere to “’help us defend the Urals!’”
In many ways, the charges Belous and Kolyasnikov are making are turning into “self-fulfilling prophecies,’” Kirillova says. Until recently, the people of the region have “felt themselves quite comfortable” in the current Russian system. But the two Putinites by their aggressiveness are increasing those who want change in “a geometrical progression.”
By their attacks on universities, they are undermining the academic standing of key regional institutions; and by their attacks on the American consulate, they are complicating the lives and economic prospects of Russian firms in the Urals whose chief trading partners are in the United States.
“In this situation,” Kirillova says, “the creation of a Urals Republic would be the only possibility allowing for the defense of this region from the disastrous policy of the Kremlin.