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Medvedev promises to meet with students of Moscow State University’s journalism faculty

October 24, 2011, 13:30 UTC+3
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President Dmitry Medvedev promised to come back to Moscow State University’s journalism faculty “to answer any questions” of students. The president’s visit to the faculty last Thursday turned into a scandal, as only members of organizations loyal to the authorities were allowed to meet him, while discontented students were barred from entry by the Federal Guard Service. Soon after this students and graduates of the faculty organized a “subbotnik” on Saturday “to wash away stains on the faculty’s reputation.”

Ivan Zassoursky, head of the new media and communication theory department of journalism faculty, Moscow State University, informed about the president’s intention to return to the faculty, the Kommersant business daily wrote. In his blog he wrote that Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalia Timakova called him to say that “the president was thankful to the faculty for hospitality and was inspired by the Saturday action.”

The daily recalled that Medvedev’s visit to the journalism faculty turned into a scandal. Admission was restricted by the lists containing names of pro-Kremlin activists, including those from the Nashi youth movement. According to some information, questions to be put to the president were coordinated beforehand. The faculty was taken under control of the Federal Guard Service. Several students were simply barred from entering the faculty’s campus. When the president arrived, girls took out pieces of paper with rhetorical questions about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, elections and one more asking “Did you ask for the prime minister’s advice before coming here?” The girls were detained for holding up these messages. This event caused hot discussions in the faculty. On Saturday a group of students and graduates of the faculty held the so-called “subbotnik” (voluntary clean-up project) – they were sweeping the faculty’s grand staircase where Medvedev entered “to wash away stains on the faculty’s reputation.”

The battle around Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the journalism faculty emerged out of nowhere, the Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote. Some students wrote a letter to MGU rector Viktor Sadovnichy and the journalism faculty’s president, Yasen Zassoursky, where they expressed indignation over “gross violation of rights of students and staff” and over “student arrests.” They also demand apologies. Meanwhile, if to clear up what in reality has been going on at the journalism faculty and not to go off into hysterics, it becomes clear that there are simply no grounds for such stormy reactions, the newspaper wrote.

The conflict that caused a storm on the Internet last week became a milestone, the Nezevisimaya Gazeta daily wrote. Medvedev for some reason praised “subbotnik” participants as if turning a blind eye to the protesting nature of the event. “In this situation the head of state simply wanted to keep his face,” the director-general of the Centre for Political Technologies, Igor Bunin, said.

He admitted that initially the president wanted to meet with students, but “other forces that wanted to structure this meeting interfered into the process for no uneasy questions to be asked, for interlocutors to be pleasant and for an atmosphere of full understanding to reign.” But what goal did Medvedev set? A failure occurred at this very level, the political scientist noted. “The president believes that he could carry up to the United Russia ranks some of his supporters who significantly differ from Putin’s ones.”

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