How the Fifth Column in Russia Turns Universities Into a Hotbed of Protest Sentiment

“Our system of higher humanitarian education is like a conveyor belt of malcontent” was the title of a program shown on Sunday on the TV channel “Rossiya 1”. The reason for its appearance was the controversial statement made by the teacher of a prestigious Moscow University Gasan Guseinov (in the photo), who said that the Russian language is “the gutter”, and that Russia has “gone savage”.

“I am amazed that Russia is such an undeveloped country. Having arrived in Berlin,” said Mr professor, as if he himself was born in Europe, “intelligent people are not surprised to see newspapers at the kiosks there, not only in German, but also in Russian and Turkish, Serbian and French, Greek and Polish, English, and Italian. And in Moscow, with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Tatars, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, Chinese, and Germans, it is impossible to find anything in other languages during the day at all – except for the poor gutter Russian language in which this country now speaks and writes.”

The most striking thing is that this Russophobic nonsense was voiced not by some angry American senator who hates Russia, and not by a Russophobe from London, but by a person who defended his PhD thesis at Moscow State University, is a specialist in ancient Greek language, who has the title of professor and teaches young people in one of the most prestigious universities of the capital – the Higher School of Economics.

But it is even more surprising that nobody in this very university condemned Guseinov for such heinous words about our “great and mighty” and about Russia. The rector of higher education only shrugged and spoke in the sense that it is, for example, the personal opinion of the professor and in general Russia is a free country, and everyone can say what they want.

It is clear that what happened caused a storm of indignation. People wondered quite a logical question, and who is this Mr. Guseinov, who conveniently settled in Moscow and allows himself to speak so insultingly about the Russian language and about our country?

He was born in sunny Baku, but not in an environment of dockers, who are not shy to express themselves, but to a quite prosperous and intelligent family. His father, Chingiz Guseinov, was a writer, and his mother, Marina Davydova Greenblat, worked as a translator.

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In the country that he now despondently calls “wild” and “undeveloped”, the native of Baku received an excellent education at the classical department of the Faculty of Literature of Moscow State University, and taught in the most prestigious universities: the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts, and then worked at the Gorky Institute of World Literature of the USSR. He worked at foreign universities in Germany, Denmark, the United States, and worked freelance in the Internet editorial office of “German Wave”, and visited the University of Bonn as a private professor. There, however, he was not seen calling English, Danish or German “the gutter”.

In 2007 Guseinov returned from abroad to Russia and became a professor at the Faculty of Philology of Moscow State University, where he taught courses in the history of ancient literature, ancient Greek language, and introduction to classical philology. Since October 2012 he has served as Professor of the Faculty of Philology of the National Research University at the Higher School of Economics, and was a member of the Scientific Council. He also teaches at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Today, Guseinov is not limited to teaching at the Higher School of Economics, but is also engaged in teaching European order to “wild Russians” and giving lectures at the hotbed of Russophobia – the Yeltsin Center.

There he recently said: “In the early 1990s a new state was being created. There was a feeling that Russia had gained the immeasurably important – political and creative freedom. There are several authors who have created a panorama of life. The writers Vladimir Sorokin, Mikhail Shishkin, Lyudmila Ulitskaya expressed the spirit of modern Russia.”

But if for him the spirit of modern Russia is expressed by the writer-pornographer Sorokin, the fugitive Shishkin, and Ulitskaya, who speaks about our anthem with contempt and urges Russians to “apologise to Ukraine”, it is clear why he himself with such contempt speaks about Russia and its language.

It is also clear that Guseinov was amicably supported by his like-minded liberals, who, as it can be seen, also consider Russia to be a “wild” country. “Gasan Guseinov, is an outstanding philologist and a wonderful linguist,” said one of the opposition gurus, the writer Dmitry Bykov. And he called the protests in Russia after Guseinov’s Russophobic remarks “the harassment of intellectuals”.

“Naturally”, Bykov said, “any intellectual is potentially dangerous to today’s Russian government. I say this without any reservations: potentially dangerous, because the intellectual move development, and in Putin’s understanding there can be nothing more dangerous for Russia than development.”

By the way, the whole recipe “of Bykov” to get in the eyes of liberals among the “development moving” intellectuals is to call Russian language “the gutter” and to insult Russia.

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The debate that broke out concerning Guseinov’s words was reflected in the mentioned story of the “Rossiya 1 TV channel”, where it was asked why inside the walls of our universities such offensive statements for the country started to sound. Also mentioned was the resonant story with the journalism faculty of Moscow State University featuring two non-local 4th year students with academic debt, i.e., with “tails”, who started to collect signatures in defence of the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics graduate student Azat Miftakhov, who is a part of an organisation of anarchists. When a group of unknown people set fire to a “United Russia” office in October, throwing a flare through a broken window, Azat Miftakhov, who had previously been tried, was among the detainees. In response, the students Marina Kim and Fariza Dudarov decided to create a support group for Azat. However, it turned out that they themselves had recently taken academic leave using fake medical certificates. For using fake certificates from Moscow State University it is customary to be expelled. But in response Marina and Fariza accused the leadership of the journalism faculty of “political persecution” and now give interviews right and left. The opposition immediately took advantage of the scandal and started to inflate excitement in every way in the student environment.

In connection with these scandals in universities a natural question was asked on the channel “Rossiya”: why our system of higher humanitarian education actually turns into a “conveyor belt of malcontent”?

One of the main reasons for this situation was the apparent overproduction in the country of graduates of humanitarian professions.

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Thus, from the half a million full-time students who enrolled this year in budgetary departments – about a half are humanitarians. The country does not need such a huge number of graduates. In the first half of 2019 only 56% of graduates of universities and secondary special educational institutions were able to find work through employment services. As a result, many have thee feelings of a lack of demand, depression, and frustration, which then develop into protest sentiment.

However, universities themselves benefit from such a huge number of unneeded-by-the-country humanists, they simply turned into a means of earning money from them. At the same time, Russia urgently lacks specialists of technical professions, engineers, programmers, qualified workers.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken about the need to bring higher education closer to production. At a meeting with the rectors of universities, he stated that “our higher education should be strong and give a truly modern, worthy education. It is clear that not every person can master knowledge of such a high level, of such quality. And when some universities enroll applicants with obviously unsatisfactory knowledge, it doesn’t just raise a lot of questions. Such a race for applicants, and therefore for funding, it is necessary to say directly, sometimes devalues the universities, and erodes the value, prestige, authority of the university itself. What quality of specialists will we get at the output? It is clear that it is not necessary to expect a good result.”

And therefore our universities actually turn now into a “conveyor belt of malcontent”. Ambitions are not met, expectations are unjustified, and there is a favourable ground for resentment and protest.

“Here everything is clear,” noted with irony the host of the program of the “Rossiya” TV channel, “if you can’t create – protest. If you can’t learn – protest too. And so it turns out that we have a system of higher education that is a conveyor belt that creates malcontent.”

And the liberal opposition and liberal professors try to exploit this malcontent, artificially inflate it, and steer it against the government.

Andrey Sokolov

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