Excluding Russians from the Bundestag: Block, remain silent, whitewash

Bundestag: A safe haven or exclusion zone for young Russians? Photo: Thomas Quine, CC BY 2.0

Telepolis has announced the closure of a scholarship program. Now the decision will come before the parliamentary committee

Debate continues in parliament over the exclusion of young Russian academics from the Bundestag’s scholarship program. The now-controversial decision, made on February 24 – the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – by representatives of government factions and the Union faction – will be addressed by the Council of Elders in the Bundestag. As Telepolis Learned from the opposite circles, a possible recovery of the body will be discussed.

Telepolis Last week, it was reported exclusively how the parliamentary department responsible for the international exchange program had asked the relevant parliamentary office to suspend the International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) at about the same time as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

March 6, Washington DC. Photo: FRIP / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The ad hoc decision, in which the head of the department Sybille Koch played a leading role, does not affect the military, Putin’s friends or oligarchs, but young academics, many of whom oppose the Russian presidential campaign in neighboring countries at considerable personal risk. The road

Of the 120 scholarships each year, eight went to the same gender equality in Russia and the United States and were the largest group in the country. Five of Russia’s current candidates will have to stay home now, just like everyone else in the future – although one can avoid forced recruitment for the Ukraine war with an academic job.

There was neither a debate nor a coherent summary argument for the decision. And despite the fact that the relevant Bundestag website states that the program is “highly qualified, committed, open-minded and open to politically interested young women and men who actively and responsibly seek to help shape their country’s democratic future”.

One would assume that such a program is more important than ever in Russia, where freedom of speech is being restricted in the shadow of martial law. The debate will now be fueled by the initiative of Jan Corte, the parliamentary group’s left-wing parliamentary manager.

Berlin project partners were not asked

There should be questions elsewhere as well, because the three Berlin universities part of the IPS were apparently not involved in the ad hoc decision. No one was able to assess the consequences of postponing the program for young Russians or were not involved in the decision, the Humboldt University Press Office said in a statement.

In early March, the traditional university suspended all institutional cooperation with its former Russian partners and stopped collaborating on joint research projects.

However, Humboldt distinguishes between university institutions and individuals, it said in a statement, which states:

This means: there are no consequences for Russian students in undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral programs at HU – they are students of HU. However, this decision has implications for joint doctoral and double degree programs. Separate solutions have been developed for enrolled students and doctoral candidates in such programs, as well as for program students of Russian partner universities currently in Germany.

Statement from Humboldt University Berlin

There has been an uproar behind the Bundestag since the program was suspended. Despite all their outrage over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, independent members of parliament disagree with the sanctions imposed on their interns. Because of the party discipline, none of them want to make a public statement.

Alumni of the IPS program wrote letters to the Bundestag administration. They do not want to comment publicly. After all, they only joined an informal association to communicate with the Bundestag, and the association had different opinions, the request said.

SPD Reporter: Academics “offer a safe haven”

On Telepolis– The demands of all government groups and unions only responded to SPD MP Rupert Stuick as the reporter responsible for the IPS program.

In the current context, the Federal Republic must provide a safe haven for abused students and scientists, Stui said.

To this end, we want to strengthen universities, scientific institutes and security programs – such as the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Those who speak critically of Russia and Belarus today show particular courage. We need solidarity here too: we must support and find ways to help the critical forces, especially in authoritarian states. The continuation of existing institutional cooperation with Russian scientific institutions means a norm that is no longer justified in the light of Ukraine’s invasion.

Rupert Stew

However, it would speak for the resumption of the program on the Bundestag, as the scholarship holders apply individually and not on behalf of any government agency, as can be seen from the self-portrait:

Scholarship holders are selected by an independent selection committee of the German Bundestag with the participation of Berlin universities on the basis of their professional, social, linguistic and intercultural skills.

Own presentation of IPS program

According to the newspaper Mirror The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has recorded hundreds of crimes against Russian or Russian-speaking people in Germany. The federal government’s anti-apartheid commissioner, Rim Alabali-Radovan (SPD), was concerned about the numbers.

According to the report, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, BKA has documented 318 property damages and insults for threats on the Internet and in public space.

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