| The YABLOKO party turned out to be a traditional
and efficient ally of the students in their fight for their rights.|
The middle of August is the time to take stock for Russian universities
and their applicants, who have just passed harsh entrance exams. However,
another serious and even dangerous burden - extortion - has been added
to the usual problems of the applicants.
This is how we can name a situation where the entrance marks of applicants
are deliberately understated, in the belief g that the young person will
thus choose a commercial (Ed. i.e. paid) department. And those who have
already become students are made to pay for virtually everything from
the right to use a university library to the possibility to sit again
a previously failed exam.
Such a situation can exist either owing to a negligence or a direct
order from the bureaucrats who are fed by the education of future specialists.
The scheme of extortion in education is simple - universities get money
from students, the heads of the universities are supported by the bureaucrats
in the education sector and local administrations. Students have no rights.
Such a situation provokes riots among young people. In June students
from the Moscow State Linguistic University expressed their dissatisfaction.
Once this bureaucracy began its attack, a powerful campaign aimed at discrediting
the student movement was launched in the press. Students were especially
indignant over the publication in the central and regional press
of an open letter by rectors and teachers of universities condemning deputy
of the State Duma from the YABLOKO faction, Chairman of the Duma Committee
for Education Alexander
Shishlov, as he dared to support the demands from students of Moscow
State Linguistic University.
All this is leading students to unite to protect their rights. On August
20, 2003, the first students' interactive television bridge of the university
students Moscow-Chelyabinsk-Ekaterinburg-Novosibirsk took place, where
the students announced the formation of an interregional nationwide movement
"Students for a Free Education". The declaration published by
the students runs, "Continuous extrotions, corruption, blackmail
with army conscription and arbitrary rule of the bureaucrats in education
have become a sad reality of Russian higher school. Today we have virtually
reached critical mass."
The authors of the declaration do not oppose paid education as such,
but do express their apprehension that the university bureaucracy is going
to raise its prices, which is connected with the campaign in the press.
The goal of the students is observation of the law and the right to a
The new movement regards university teachers and the academic intelligentsia
of Russian universities as its allies. Like the students they are also
under pressure from the 'educational' bureaucracy. The YABLOKO party turned
out to be a traditional and efficient ally of the students in their fight
for their rights. It helped the students to resolve the conflict at the
Moscow State Linguistic University. The fact that many of the party members
represent academic intelligentsia makes it a natural ally of the student
movement. In view of the coming [parliamentary] elections, the initiative
of the young people can gain wide support. It is unlikely that some political
structure can protect the bureaucrats sitting on the students' shoulders.
Thus, students have a good chance to find influential patrons among Duma
deputies and representatives of the executive authorities. However, time
will show whether the deputies will have the requisite will to fight for
student rights after the election campaign.