After Russia attacked Ukraine,many imposed sanctions were symbolic ones, such as Vladimir Putin being stripped of his taekwando black belt. Now, the issue of President Putin’s honorary doctorate at the University of Debrecen (DE) has made it back to the agenda in Hungary.
A controversial decision in 2017
DE’s Rector, Zoltán Szilvássy (who is thought to be close to the governing party’s circles) nominated the Russian president for the title back in 2017, and his motion was eventually approved with a 90% majority by the senate. According to the reasoning for the decision, the Russian Federation, out of courtesy to President Putin, is allotting a major role to the University of Debrecen in the Paks II upgrade project.
The move raised some eyebrows at the time, and several DE departments publicly distanced themselves from the decision. The Department of Analysis, for example, argued that the senate “disregarded its citizens who contributed to the hard-earned reputation of the institution in the competitive environment of academic and educational freedom. Praising autocrats is unacceptable to us, it goes against everything we stand for in our professional work at the university.”
Fidesz’s Kósa thinks war against Ukraine should not have effect on Putin’s honorary doctorate
Just as Russia attacked Ukraine, the issue has made it back on the agenda.
When asked about Putin’s honorary doctorate, Fidesz strongman and former Debrecen mayor Lajos Kósa said that he already finds “it strange that someone is not expressing solidarity with the Ukrainians in this situation, but attacking the Russians.”
“I would think that standing up for the Ukrainians, for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, for the security of Ukraine: that is the issue at stake, and not Putin’s personal image.”
The university then failed to response to local independent outlet Debreciner.
DE: Putin technically not honorary doctorate
On Tuesday, however, the portal noticed that the university’s website already dealt with the case. The University of Debrecen argued that according to their rules, a person nominated for the civis honoris causa awards must receive it in public, at the senate’s ceremonial meeting. “Anyone whose diploma has not been presented by the university is not the holder of the title and therefore is not entitled to it.”
featured image via Tamás Kovács/MTI