by UnHerd News
Monday, 30
May 2022
Video
17:14

Rejected from a London university for being Russian

Florence Read meets the student accusing a London university of Russophobia
by UnHerd News

After the invasion of Ukraine, formal economic sanctions were ordered by Western governments to punish Putin’s inner circle. Then private institutions and individuals took it upon themselves to sanction everyday Russians, even those living abroad. Informal cultural and social sanctions have gone from cancelling Tchaikovsky concerts to banning Russian players from Wimbledon, and now it seems that universities have joined the anti-Russian culture war.

Elena Ledneva, a woman living with her husband and young child in the UK, applied for a Master’s course in hospitality at the University of West London. Elena had years of experience in running events, including welcoming international delegates to the Sochi Winter Olympics, so on paper, she would seem to be the ideal candidate. But last week she was rejected due to ‘the situation in Ukraine’. Was she really rejected for being Russian?

Elena joined Florence Read in the UnHerd studio to share her story.

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

While there might be some reason to discriminate against Russians explicitly representing their country in sport it does seem absurd for a Niversityto discriminate against a Russian living here merely on the grounds of her nationality.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“While there might be some reason to discriminate against Russians explicitly representing their country in sport”
Athletes all over the world ‘represent their country’. If I were an Olympian, I’d represent something called “GB”. I don’t believe in that thing, but I’d still show up, and I wouldn’t welcome being discriminated against because I was born in this “GB” thing. I’d call it racism.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rod McLaughlin
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  Rod McLaughlin

The purpose of any sanctions which will inevitably impact inhabitants of the country targeted is to persuade the countries’s rulers to change course. Excluding athletes representing their country might help to do that at the expense, of course, of the athletes. I don’t advocate it. It is a political calculation.
Refusing to admit a Russian in the country to a University place doesn’t seem likely to have any effect on Putin’s policy so doesn’t seem justified. However, whatever it is it is not racist which is something to do with the 18th century classification of ethnic groups on the basis of skin colour. Russians are predominantly part of the Caucasian racial classification and she was not excluded for being Caucasian but on the grounds of her nationality.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Rod McLaughlin

But it’s not racism. It may not be right, but excluding you because of the politics of your government is not racism, even if that’s what you call it.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 months ago

Florence Read is a great journalist. “One would think there’s a chain of command at West London university”. Devastating.
I’d be more direct. This is a rare example of a UK university being really racist.
I don’t think Florence should have asked Elena what she thinks about the invasion of Ukraine. It suggests that it would be OK to discriminate against Russians with the wrong opinions.
CORRECTION: As I’m listening to it, Florence changes her position. If it’s OK to ask Russians, on a racial basis, what they think of the policies of the current Moscow regime, what about asking all the Chinese students to denounce the crimes of the Beijing regime in Xinjiang. Obviously, that is wrong, and doesn’t happen, so why be racist to Russians? Racists are inconsistent.

Last edited 2 months ago by Rod McLaughlin
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  Rod McLaughlin

“This is a rare example of a UK university being really racist.”
Anti-white racism is routine in UK universities.

Paul Schmitt
Paul Schmitt
2 months ago

Spot on question from Read about applying the same standards to Chinese nationals about treatment of China’s Uighur population. My alma mater’s two largest sources of international students were Saudi Arabia and China. Who thinks that any Saudi or Chinese citizen would be denied a place at university due their countries’ deplorable actions in Yemen and Xinjiang repectively, or asked to publicly denounce said actions in order to have a place there? It’s not happening and probably won’t. Nor should it.
The double standard as it applies to Russians here is probably in place for two basic reasons, along with the fact it’s in keeping with preferred media narratives. First, we here in the USA at least depend on China and Saudi Arabia economically a lot more than we do on Russia, and their numerous students are a good source of cash for our universities as well. And second, you can exclude Russians without being accused of racism, since they’re white. Or at least most of them. It would be an interesting test to see if a university would exclude a Russian national who happened to be say, a Buryat or Yakut, to see which sentiment is actually stronger–to stop Asian hate, or to support Ukraine/stand up to Russia.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
2 months ago

There was never a campaign to cancel Tchaikovsky concerts: one performance of the 1812 Overture was cancelled in Cardiff shortly after the Russian invasion, for understandable reasons: it is celebration of a Russian military victory which includes the sound of cannon fire and a triumphant rendition of the (Tsarist) Russian National Anthem. The orchestra felt it was inappropriate to play the piece in the present context and they were unquestionably right. They have not cancelled subsequent concerts of Rachmaninov and other Russian composers.
Always good to check the facts before making blanket statements.

Dawn Ellis
Dawn Ellis
2 months ago

It is disturbing and frustrating that the ability and freedom to travel has been thwarted. The best education and perspectives into different cultures has always been the ability to travel and to see firsthand how other countries live and deal with the day to day. The loss of this freedom, is for me, the biggest detriment to being able to understand what is going on.

M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Florence Read, “After the invasion of Ukraine, formal economic sanctions were ordered by Western governments to punish Putin’s inner circle. Then private institutions and individuals took it upon themselves to sanction everyday Russians, even those living abroad.”

Unless the government was imposed by a foreign power, the citizens are responsible for the actions of the government. Hispanics are responsible for the actions of their governments (in destroying the quality of life) in the nations of Latin America. Chinese are responsible for the actions of their government in brutalizing Uyghurs.

Of course, the Russians are responsible for the actions of the Kremlin in committing atrocities in Ukraine. In fact, 80% of Russians support the Russian war against the Ukrainians. German public television has shown videos of Russians (living in Germany) who publicly state their support for the Kremlin.

All levels of society in the West can and must retaliate against ordinary Russians. We must also retaliate against Chinese and Indians. The Indian government is helping the Kremlin to evade Western sanctions, and 40% of Indians support the Russians’ committing atrocities against the Ukrainians.

Get more info about this issue.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

Hope you never get a government you disagree with.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

What about Jews?