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Society

Greek Academics Want Universities to Revoke Putin Honorary Degrees

ATHENS – Russian President Vladmir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is reason for Greek universities to strip him of honorary degrees he was awarded, a group of academics have said in a petition as they seek more signatures.

That is being circulated, said Kathimerini, with the organizers saying that solidarity must be shown for Ukranians fiercely resisting and citizens being bombed in their houses and on the streets littered with the dead.

“The revocation of honorary academic degrees awarded to Vladimir Putin is today, in the tragic event of the military invasion of Ukraine, an elementary obligation of the university community to its own historical, ideological and cultural identity,” Theodoros Papatheodorou, a professor and former rector of the University of Peloponnese, and former deputy minister of education, told Kathimerini.

“It is also a matter of self-awareness and of defending European principles and values of peace, liberal democracy, security and the rule of law,” he stressed, wanting Greek schools to show their disdain for Putin’s War.

He added: “Silence has no place in the face of our duty to take a strong position against totalitarianism, authoritarianism and violations of international law,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis being among the first in the European Union to denounce the invasion despite ties with Russia.

The most recent honor awarded Putin was Feb. 22, 2018, an honorary doctorate from the Department of History, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management at the University of the Peloponnese “for all his work and for his contribution to Greek-Russian relations, literature, society, the arts and democracy.”

Even at that time there were some bitter critics of the degree, within the university  band the community, so much so that a planned ceremony in Kalamata, where the department has located, had to be postponed.

It was eventually held at the Russian Embassy in Athens, in the presence of George Katrougalos, Greece’s then-deputy foreign minister from the previous ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that has strong Communist sympathizers.

In 2001, Putin was awarded an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Athens, where he then spoke about the global challenges posted by terrorism and extremism, his office stated in a release.

He stressed that the choice Russia made a decade earlier was to put an end to global confrontation and paved the way for a united Europe, freedom and democracy, the statement added.

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