The Italian University Ca’ Foscari (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) has revoked one of the Kremlin’s top official propagandist and director of the Russian Military Historical Society Vladimir Medinsky of the title of the honorary professor because of his role in the war with Ukraine.
“Initiatively once awarded it (without asking anyone), now it is being proactively withdrawn,” Medinsky wrote, attaching a photo of the letter.
The rector’s order to this effect was signed on 7 December last year.
“Medinsky plays a primary role as a representative of the Russian government during an unacceptable and bloody invasion of a sovereign country”
A Putin aide found this “amusing”. Medinsky led the Russian delegation in negotiations with Ukraine at the start of the war.
Ca’ Foscari was founded in 1868 as the “Royal High School of Commerce”, and a century later, in 1968, it was granted university status. In 2011 it opened the Centre for the Study of Russian Culture (CSAR). Medinsky was made an honorary professor at the university in 2014.
His nomination was improper: in particular, the lists of voters included persons who were not present at the meeting. In addition, the nomination did not come from the Slavic Studies Department.
The minutes of the university’s Academic Senate meeting listed his professional achievements as “professor at MGIMO University, advisor to the deputy speaker of the State Duma, head of the State Duma committee on culture and minister of culture since 2012,” as well as “numerous scientific publications” without indicating the field of research.
In the aftermath, a scandal erupted at the university. Professor Ca’ Foscari Filippomaria Pontani was outraged at awarding the honorary title to a man who is known for his homophobia, justifies Stalinism, rejects the principles of multiculturalism and tolerance, and fires the commissioner of the Russian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Grigori Revzin, for making pro-Ukrainian statements.
More than two hundred teachers and academics signed an open letter against awarding the title to Medinsky. The university’s decision also sparked mass outrage among students. As a result, the ceremony had to be moved from Venice to Moscow – the official explanation was that the official was “busy”. Speaking at it, Medinsky called the decision of the academic council of Ca’ Foscari a “great honour” for himself.