University of Coimbra fires director of Center for Russian Studies

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The University of Coimbra has dismissed professor and director of the Russian Studies Center, Vladimir Pliassov, after verifying that the activities of that unit “would be going beyond” the scope of the school, it was announced today.

University of Coimbra fires director of Center for Russian Studies

“By verifying that the teaching activities of the aforementioned Russian Studies Center would be going beyond this scope [exclusive teaching of Russian language and literature], the rectory determined the immediate termination of the link with Professor Vladimir Pliassov,” said today the University of Coimbra (UC), in a statement sent to the Portugal Pulse agency.

The confirmation of the resignation was first advanced by Renascença radio, after an accusation by Ukrainians Olga Filipova and Viacheslav Medvediev, who live in Coimbra, in an opinion article published in Jornal de Proença.

The two plaintiffs accuse Vladimir Pliassov of “Russian propaganda” at the University of Coimbra and of being the main representative in Portugal of the Russkiy Mir foundation (an institution created by Vladimir Putin and supported by the Russian government that supported the creation of that study center and that has as its main objective the promotion of the Russian language and culture).

The two “activists” accuse the director of using symbols associated with the invasion of Ukrainian territory, such as the ribbon of St. George (a symbol banned in several countries in Eastern Europe), as well as making available in the study center a series of photographs of young people with letters stating that they are from “Southern Ukraine” or the “Donetsk People’s Republic” as “separate and valid geographical entities”, stressing that Ukraine does not appear as a “single country” in these photographs.

According to the University of Coimbra, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the institution ceased its ties with the Russkyi Mir foundation, “which until December 2021 supported the teaching of Russian language and culture at the Center for Russian Studies at the Faculty of Arts.

“In respect for the people and culture of Russia, after the severance of this contractual link, the aforementioned Center for Russian Studies was kept in operation, with UC’s own resources, for exclusive teaching of Russian language and literature,” he clarified.

In the same note of clarification sent to the Portugal Pulse, the University of Coimbra stresses that it is an “institution deeply committed to European values and fully in solidarity with Ukraine in the context of Russian aggression.

“The UC has condemned and unequivocally condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And since February 24, 2022 it has associated itself with initiatives to collect financial donations to support displaced persons and refugees from the war, made the University Stadium and its resources available to support civil society in welcoming those who arrived in Coimbra, integrated refugee students into its community to whom it gave a Portuguese language course, and strengthened ties of cooperation with the University of Lviv,” he added.

So far, the Portugal Pulse has been unable to obtain clarification from Vladimir Pliassov.

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