June 09, 2023

Fired for Fighting Ruscism


Fired for Fighting Ruscism
View from the Neva to the University embankment. The old building of St. Petersburg State University. Andrey Korzun, Wikimedia Commons.

St. Petersburg State University (SPbGU) fired Mikhail Belousov, an assistant professor at the Institute of History, for saying that “direct and open approval of ruscism is disgusting.” 

The university published its dismissal order on its website, saying Belousov propagated "materials discrediting the conduct of a special military operation by the armed forces of the Russian Federation, as well as materials insulting the memory of persons who died in the line of military duty."

Screenshots of the historian’s messages sparked conflict following news of the death of Fyodor Solomon, a student at SPbGU who fought in the war. Students and faculty organized commemorative events in Solomonov’s honor. Belousov implored faculty members to fight ruscism: “This is the ‘red line’: ‘sometimes it’s better to chew than to talk.’”

Many pro-Russian government Telegram channels, according to ASTRA, publicly condemned Belousov for his “shameful heresy,” saying that “he is far from alone” in his fight against ruscism, and that “many students of the university openly mocked the death of Fyodor Solomonov.” The channels had called for Belousov's removal.

Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Konstantin Mogilevsky strongly criticized the situation arising from Belousov's anti-war statements, describing it as "deplorable and unacceptable."

“As a historian, I know that the faculty of history at St Petersburg State University is one of the best in our country," Mogilevsky said. "Professionals with a civil position work here, people who are not included in the small group that staged this provocation.” Mogilevsky said he believes that Belousov and his students "cannot boast of any serious achievements in their studies and scientific activities."

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