War in Ukraine

Students at prestigious Russian university openly defy Putin

Students at prestigious Russian university openly defy Putin with demands to bring back online learning so they can study from abroad – and avoid being called up to fight in Ukraine

  • At the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow
  • Some 3,100 students have reportedly threatened to quit if they are refused
  • The students’ ‘blackmail’ threat has outraged pro-war commentators
  • But it is a vote of no confidence in Putin by some of Russia’s brightest students

Thousands of elite students at one of Russia’s most prestigious universities are openly defying Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine with demands for a return of online learning so they can study from abroad – and avoid being called up to fight in the bloody conflict.

Some 3,100 students at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow have threatened to quit if they are refused, according to reports.

Their ‘blackmail’ threat has outraged pro-war commentators, but their move highlights a devastating vote of no confidence in Putin by some of Russia’s brightest students.

It is the only university in Russia ranked in the top 100 of The Times Higher Education Young University Rankings.

Some 3,100 students at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (pictured) in Moscow have threatened to quit if they are refused, according to reports

Some 3,100 students at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (pictured) in Moscow have threatened to quit if they are refused, according to reports

One noted graduate of the HSE is Maxim Oreshkin (right), 40, Putin's (left) own economics adviser, who earlier was his Minister of Economic Development

One noted graduate of the HSE is Maxim Oreshkin (right), 40, Putin’s (left) own economics adviser, who earlier was his Minister of Economic Development

A leaked group chat from HSE showed more than 3,000 of its students tried to push teachers to allow them to study from abroad as they escaped Russia in protest against the war/fear of being conscripted

Pro-Kremlin Readovka channel showed an alleged leak of the student demands

The pro-Kremlin Readovka channel complained about two HSE student being forced to tear down Z and V stickers, which are pro-war symbols, off their dorm rooms

The pro-Kremlin Readovka channel complained about two HSE student being forced to tear down Z and V stickers, which are pro-war symbols, off their dorm rooms

One noted graduate of the HSE is Maxim Oreshkin, 40, Putin’s own economics adviser, who earlier was his Minister of Economic Development.

‘More than 3,000 opposition-minded students of the Higher School of Economics cooperated in order to blackmail the administration of the university for the introduction of distance learning,’ said pro-Kremlin Readovka channel.

It showed an alleged leak of the student demands.

It claimed the students see Putin’s policies as ‘objectionable’ and had threatened ‘mass resignations’ from their elite degree courses if they were barred from online learning from abroad.

Hundreds of thousands of men of military age have already fled Russia as Putin’s forced mobilisation gets underway.

Many more are still seeking to leave.

‘The opposition-minded students literally decided to spit in the well to betray their state, but continue to receive its benefits,’ complained Readovka.

Other pro-war nationalists frothed at the student action.

The rising tide of protest shows Putin – who will be 70 this week – out of step with many younger Russians who deny his view that Ukraine is full of Nazis and must be invaded using forced mobilisation of civilians.

In theory students are exempt from mobilisation.

The HSE protest indicates students do not trust the authorities on the student exemption.


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