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Anti-Maidan Activist Booed By Moscow Students

The lecture erupted into a heated confrontation.
The lecture erupted into a heated confrontation.

If pro-Kremlin activist Nikolai Starikov was hoping to rally Russian students to his cause, he may have to think twice.

Starikov, who heads the Anti-Maidan movement, was scheduled to hold a lecture at Moscow's prestigious Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) on May 21.

The lecture, however, erupted into a heated confrontation after students lashed out at him before walking out.

RGGU professor Konstantin Yerusalimsky, who attended the lecture, says the announced topic had been "the fate of Russia."

But when Starikov began his presentation with a short film belittling pro-democracy protests in Ukraine, Egypt, and other parts of the world, many of the students saw red.

"Get out of here!" they shouted at Starikov. "We didn't invite you!"

"It was clear from the start that this was no academic event, that these people were ideologues and political activists," Yerusalimsky told RFE/RL. "I personally decided, out of academic hygiene, to react immediately."

In footage of the event posted online, Yerusalimsky is seen confronting Starikov, accusing him of bringing propaganda into university classrooms and questioning his academic credentials as a self-styled "expert on counteracting color revolutions."

Starikov responds by accusing the angry students of using the same methods as Maidan protesters -- referring to Ukrainians whose demonstrations brought down Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych last year -- and asks them to leave the room.

"We don't need you here," he tells them. "Only decent, well-mannered people stay."

"Color revolution" is a term Russian authorities use for pro-democracy protests that have toppled governments in nations including Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan.

President Vladimir Putin has accused the West, and particularly the United States, of fomenting such protests. His government has stressed its determination to head off any "color revolution" in Russia, and responded to large protests in 2011-12 with police crackdowns and restrictive legislation.

Starikov's presentation was part of a cycle of lectures held by Anti-Maidan activists in Russian universities.

Other prominent Anti-Maidan members to have addressed university students include Aleksandr Zaldostanov, the leader of the pro-Kremlin motorcycle club Night Wolves, and Oleg Tsaryov, a leading separatist figure in Ukraine.

Critics suspect the campaign is supported by Kremlin and say Anti-Maidan activists, who have openly mocked Western leaders and supported separatist militants in eastern Ukraine, have no business teaching in Russian universities.

"It's outrageous. This should not be permitted on the premises of any university," said Yerusalimsky. "Unfortunately, they are getting away with it. They are pushing their shameless idea and utterly nonacademic project everywhere."