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Zubov: Staying in Russia meant being quiet or jailed

After his first lecture at Masaryk University, professor Andrey Borisovich Zubov talked at today’s press conference about his gratitude for the possibility to speak in public after eight years. The historian moved to Brno with his family after Russia’s partial mobilization.

Professor Andrei Borisovich Zubov answered journalists' questions at the press conference.

Andrey Borisovich Zubov spoke at the press conference alongside Masaryk University Rector Martin Bareš and Minister for European Affairs Mikuláš Bek. Zubov explained his reasons to eventually leaving Russia and move to the Czech Republic. “Step by step, KGB is forming a despotic police system and the suppression of the freedom of speech is throwing the people into the abyss of war. The regime does not need people who can use their heads and who know the history of their country and the world in general; it needs brainwashed soldiers who are prepared to kill innocent people; which is why I accepted the invitation from Masaryk University. Staying in Russia would mean having to stay quiet, or worst-case scenario, jail,” Zubov said.

Minister for European Affairs and former Masaryk University Rector Mikuláš Bek, current Masaryk University Rector Martin Bareš and Professor Andrey Borisovich Zubov

Zubov’s series of lectures on the history of Russia in the 20th century started at the Faculty of Arts last week. “I am happy that, after eight years of silence, I could have my first lecture here in Brno. I was afraid that I had forgotten how to talk to students, especially since the lecture was in English,” Zubov explained at the press conference. “In recent years I tried to give private lessons, but the freedom to give lectures to students is what is really fulfilling. I am very grateful that, thanks to Masaryk University, I can be in contact with students,” added the expert in the history of European philosophy and religion and Russian and comparative history.

“As a democratic institution, we reject the principle of collective guilt. In the spirit of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, we are ready to help everybody who deserves help. We have previously offered help to students and teachers from Belarus in response to persecution and violence towards those who expressed dissatisfaction with the undemocratic processes during general elections in the country. In spring we supported the activities of Russian and Belorussian students who expressed opposition to Putin’s military action in Ukraine. And when there was the opportunity to help professor Zubov, there was no reason to hesitate, since he found himself in a life-affecting situation because of his brave decision to speak the truth in a totalitarian regime,” Masaryk University Rector Martin Bareš said at the press conference.

Professor Andrej Borisovič Zubov

Bareš also emphasized his gratitude for the actions of the current Czech government in promoting democratic values, including those of Mikuláš Bek, who himself is a former MU Rector. It was Bek who, in 2014, offered Zubov the opportunity to teach at Masaryk University. Zubov denied the offer but he has been in close contact with the university ever since and, in 2019, he was granted its honorary doctorate for exceptional achievements in science and the development of human knowledge and active involvement in social issues.

“The reasons for professor Zubov’s arrival are a painful reminder of the fulfillment of the darkest scenarios which we were unable or unwilling to accept a few years ago in spite of the warning signs. I am happy about his arrival, not just because of the benefits for the university and its students, but also as living proof that we can help one another. And that gives us a big hope,” Mikuláš Bek explained.

Students can register for the series of lectures entitled Reasons for the Russian Catastrophe of the 20th Century and Possibilities to Overcome It via the information system (IS). Video with the first lecture at the Faculty of Arts is available here: IS MUNI. Video with the first lecture at the Faculty of Arts is available here: 

MU HELPS UKRAINE. You can still help Ukrainian students and academics by donating money through Masaryk University to support educational and humanitarian efforts. You can make a donation through the MUNI Shopping Centre. You can find out how much money has been collected so far on the MUNI HELPS website.