The most recent protests were more than three weeks ago, but Russian educators are still bending over backwards to warn their pupils about the dangers of joining Alexei Navalny’s nationwide anti-corruption movement.
This Tuesday, Vladimir State University packed an auditorium with students and showed them a short film comparing Navalny to Adolf Hitler, followed by a lecture from Alla Byba, the head of a regional anti-extremism school. In what has become a familiar routine over the past month, Byba chastised and insulted the young people in the room for showing interest in Navalny and for daring to challenge her presentation of his politics.
“First of all, you must understand perfectly well that there are the political ambitions of a certain circle of people at play here,” Byba told her captive audience. “You’re also aware that every teacher in every class right now is talking about how there’s a targeted war going on against the Russian Federation. Information war, cyberwar, and they’re betting on the youth. It’s not for nothing that the Internet is used for very intense recruiting efforts by terrorist organizations.”
When students in the crowd started criticizing the film and her remarks, Byba denied that she had come to indoctrinate anyone, saying the university had merely invited her to speak.
“Nobody here is imposing a position,” Byba insisted. “At the very start of this meeting, we said everyone should have their own opinion. You just need to do a little thinking — most of all, about your own safety and the safety of the people close to you.”
But when students asked to see Navalny’s video detailing corruption allegations against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Byba flatly refused, pretending not to understand why they wished to see it.
And when a student called her a liar, Byba became infuriated, responding, “Your behavior is disgusting. You have no sense of tact at all, and it saddens me that you’re such a ill-bred person.”