The Russian historian Andrei Borisovich Zubov received an honorary doctorate in history from Masaryk University in the refectory of the Mendel Museum. Zubov, who specialises in the history of European philosophy, history of religion, and Russian and comparative history, received the doctor honoris causa degree for his exceptional contribution to research and the advancement of human knowledge and for his civic engagement.
His dismissal from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations followed after he expressed disapproval with the policy of the Russian Federation government towards Ukraine and regarding the so-called Crimean question.
“In my opinion, it is important that Professor Zubov, as an honorary doctor of Masaryk University, shares the university’s basic values such as democracy, freedom, respect for rules, and social responsibility. While it is far from certain whether truth and love will ever prevail over lies and hatred – as asserted by Václav Havel, another honorary doctor of MUNI – Andrei Borisovich Zubov is an exemplar and an inspiration to us to do our best to make sure it will, according to our conscience and capabilities, in our defence of freedom,” said Mikuláš Bek while presenting Zubov with the award.
In his speech after receiving the award, Zubov focused on Slavic solidarity, which could help overcome the authoritarian regimes in Russia and Belarus and also help a fragmented Ukraine. “Not the solidarity of geopolitical parties, not a superpower programme, but solidarity in freedom and plenty, where the freedom, dignity, and plenty of one nation are the guarantee and support of the freedom, dignity, and plenty of another, close and related to the first by spirit, language, and culture. This is how I see Slavic solidarity in the 21st century” said Zubov.
Dismissed for criticising the occupation of Crimea
Zubov graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. From 1973, he worked for almost 30 years as a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Although he originally trained for a diplomatic career, he later abandoned this path as he was unwilling to become a member of the Communist Party. He focuses primarily on the comparative study of politics, religion, and the history of thought, law, and constitutional systems in eastern and south-eastern Asia and, increasingly, in the Caucasus and the Russian Federation.
His best-known work in Czechia is his Russian History: 20th Century, co-authored by a team of historians led by Zubov, which offered a detailed and unconventional view of modern Russian history, creating much interest and a number of controversies.
Zubov’s academic career peaked in 2001 when he became the managing director of the centre for church and international relations at the Moscow State University of International Relations. However, this was abruptly terminated in 2014, when he was relieved of his office as director and then dismissed from the Institute due to his disapproval of the Russian Federation policy towards Ukraine and regarding the Crimean question. Afterwards, he started working with the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta and now mostly works as a lecturer.
Zubov’s close ties with Masaryk University date back to 2014 when he was offered a position at the university by Rector Mikuláš Bek in an effort to help him in his difficult situation. While Zubov appreciated the offer, he declined it, explaining: “As a citizen, it is important for me to stay in Russia and continue my work here.” However, he did visit Brno to give a lecture.