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Russian Students Demand More Rights

MOSCOW -- Some 30 representatives of the All-Russian Union of Students gathered on June 24 outside the Russian parliament building in Moscow to demand the passage of legislation that would give university students more control over their education, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Some of the students carried placards saying "No to vigilantism -- Yes to autonomy," "Power to the Students!" and "Student autonomy is the foundation of civil society."

Nikolai Kazantsev, a student representative from St. Petersburg, said the students' objective is to secure the same degree of autonomy as students enjoy in many European countries.

He said a draft law the students have prepared would help put an end to problems such as the illegal expulsion of students, authorities demanding tuition fees from students exempted from them, inadequate stipends, and faculty members violating students' rights.

Kazantsev said the protest was inspired by recent student strikes in the United States, Europe, and Ukraine.

In April, hundreds of university students gathered in Kyiv to demand the resignation of Education and Science Minister Dmitro Tabachnyk after he abolished the Ukrainian-language exam formerly required for bachelor degrees.

Russian State Duma deputy Anton Belyakov of A Just Russia has agreed to submit the bill in the Duma. But he warned the protesters that he thinks it very unlikely it will be passed.

The students plan to collect signatures nationwide in support of the legislation and stage meetings across the country in the autumn in support of students' rights.