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Corruption Is Normal, Russian Students Told

A dozen people from Alexei Navalny’s opposition group remain in jail after massive anti-government protests.

30 March 2017

The thousands of Russians who protested against government corruption last weekend need to study their country’s history, one university teacher says.

 

The lecturer at Tomsk State University was secretly filmed this week castigating students who attended the demonstrations inspired by opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

 

 

“If a state has no corruption, it means that’s a state nobody needs,” he said, alluding to Czar Peter the Great’s remark that “officials stealing from the government are a sign of a healthy, well-endowed country,” as The Moscow Times puts it.

 

More than a thousand people were detained during protests in several cities Sunday. Navalny himself was sentenced to a 15-day jail term after he arrived at the protest in Moscow. Eleven staff and volunteers at Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund were jailed for seven days for failing to respond to police orders, and the head of his presidential campaign, Leonid Volkov, was sentenced to ten days, a spokeswoman for the group said Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.

 

Police said they group was arrested for refusing to leave their office in Moscow when warned of a bomb threat.

 

The authorities may have come down hard on Navalny’s supporters, but one teacher at least appears to have lost her job for exaggerating the threat he poses the state.

 

The instructor at the Moscow Conservatory resigned on 28 March after a video emerged of her attack on opposition parties and activists, whom she called “fifth columnists” and “traitors,” RFE/RL reports.

 

The teacher also ordered a student to read a text which included names of figures the students were told never to vote for, including Navalny and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

 

The deputy rector of the conservatory said the instructor compiled the list on her own account.

 

 

  • The ambiguous attitudes toward corruption and the possibility of political change in Russia have also emerged in recent surveys by the independent Levada Center organization. In one poll taken in early March, 74 percent of respondents said corruption and bribery could be “completely” or “significantly” eradicated.

 

  • But 45 percent said although Vladimir Putin will try to fight corruption, he is unlikely to achieve significant gains because corruption is ineradicable from Russian society.

 

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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