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13.05.2010

Pressure on student activists through “preventive chats”

   

Students at Ukrainian institutes are complaining of pressure being brought to bear on them over their active civic position. They speak of “preventive chats” in the Dean’s Office, with threats to expel them.

Having distanced themselves from political parties, the students have announced the creation of strike committees in institutes and the organization of protests over their opposition to the pro-Russian policy of the President and Minister of Education [Dmytro Tabachnyk]. Lecturers during private conversations have tried to persuade the students not to make radical statements, Olha Salo, an activist from the Youth Movement for the Defence of National Interests explains.

Ms Salo says that there has not yet been general pressure of the “administrative machine”, with such “preventive” measures at present only carried out in relation to individual students. In many cases these chats have had an effect.  Ms Salo points out that when students are called for such a conversation, they are warned that it must be strictly confidential. The student therefore backs out of further participation without giving reasons.

Activists are promised legal defence

Such “chats” unfortunately work and students don’t want to take the risk of being expelled. Over thirty students are presently facing such a risk in the Transcarpathian oblast. The Youth Movement aims to establish the real reasons for possible expulsions, Ms Salo says, adding that similar problems have also arisen with students from Kharkiv and Kyiv institutes.

If a student does get expelled for his or her views or convictions, the civic initiative is ready to provide them with legal defence. The Youth Movement is convinced that from September protests will spread with new force in all regions of the country.

Halyna Stadnyk

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