Two hundred students formed a human shield in front of Moscow State University’s main building to protest the FIFA Fan Fest zone, which will be set up next to the campus during this summer’s 2018 World Cup.
Students from Moscow State University, the Higher School of Economics and other universities took part in the protest action on April 28, according to a statement sent by organizers to The Moscow Times.
Around 25,000 football fans are expected to descend on the fan zone in Vorobyovy Gory over the month-long tournament, which starts on June 14. Students claim that the Fan Fest zone — located 300 meters from the university's dorms and classrooms — will disrupt their studies and preparation for exams, and could also harm the university park.
Since summer 2017, the students have sent several applications to the Moscow authorities to hold a sanctioned demonstration against the FIFA Fan Fest and have tried legal ways to influence the decision, such as submitting petitions to government offices. However, their applications were rejected.
"Students decided to participate in an unsanctioned action after several attempts to arrange a legal demonstration against the FIFA Fan Fest," the students' emailed statement said. "Each time the Moscow authorities rejected these applications for various fake reasons."
Student representatives met with vice president and chairman of the 2018 World Cup Organizing Committee Arkady Dvorkovich on April 9 to discuss moving the fan zone to another area, RBC news outlet reported. However, despite Dvorkovich's promise to find a solution, authorities have made no further efforts to relocate the fan zone.