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Russian and Belarusian students at MU condemn war in Ukraine

Russian and Belarusian students at Masaryk University have been affected by the armed conflict in Ukraine. Some have mustered the courage to publicly state their disapproval of the Russian invasion and emphatically condemn it.

Russian student Darina Gribanova.

More than a dozen students from Masaryk University decided not to remain silent. They recorded a message to the entire world, which Rector Martin Bareš considers to be a great act of personal bravery. “Students at our university have shown a massive amount of courage. We asked them several times if they realize the possible consequences of their message, a personal, concrete expression of their opinion, and they consistently affirmed that they did. Therefore, I would like to express my support for them, because we Czechs also have historical experience with the idea of collective guilt, which, in my opinion, should not be a part of a democratic society.”

Maria Buzina, a graduate of the MU Faculty of Medicine, came up with the idea of filming a video denouncing the Russian aggression. “I am from Russia, but I have been living in Europe for ten years. When the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine and declared war on 24 February, it deeply hurt me. I was devastated. I immediately got the feeling that I was certainly not the only Russian who doesn’t agree with this war,” says Maria, who currently works as a doctor in Česká Lípa.

Therefore, she teamed up with Darina Gribanova from the MU Faculty of Social Studies to reach out to other Russian and Belarusian students at Masaryk University. “We all knew that expressing our opinion out loud at this exact time carried enormous risk. Russia has passed a new law, according to which any protest against this ‘special military operation’ will be punished by a fine or prison. But we want to tell people that not all Russians are evil. We just couldn’t stay quiet. We stand for democracy and freedom of speech in Ukraine,” stresses Maria.

“We can be jailed for 15 to 25 years for what we said in the video. But we all believe it is very important for our opinion to be heard. Now we need to not only help the Ukrainian people, but we must also stand up and protest. We are not the Russian government, and we fundamentally disapprove of what it is doing,” adds Darina.

Masaryk University and faculty leaders highly appreciate the great courage shown by Russian and Belarusian students in their public statement. “I have nothing but applause for this initiative, and I am proud of all the students who speak in the video. May their great courage and ability to call things by their proper names be an inspiration for their fellow citizens in Russia and Belarus,” says Petr Suchý, vice-dean for internationalization and student affairs at the Faculty of Social Studies.

Earlier, during the 2022 Masaryk Days, Andrei Borisovich Zubov, a Russian historian, religious studies expert, and political scientist, as well as recipient of an honorary doctorate from MU, expressed his disapproval of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Alexandra Kokoreva, a student at the Faculty of Social Studies, also condemned the military aggression in an interview with M Magazine.