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Right-wing lecturer in Ukraine: University fires philologist

A lecturer has to leave after crude comments about Ukrainian soldiers speaking Russian. She belongs to a right-wing radical party.

Soldiers during an exercise.

Ukrainian military cadets take the oath at a barracks in Lviv Photo: Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters

BERLIN taz | She was fired from her university job in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and has an investigation on her hands: It doesn’t work good thing for Iryna Farion. The recent events were triggered by more than borderline statements made by the doctor of philology and former member of parliament in a TV interview on November 6th.

The 59-year-old – she is a member of the right-wing radical party “Svoboda” – had criticized Ukrainian soldiers who still speak Russian. Such people cannot be called Ukrainians. If there is no discipline, it is not an army, but simply a mob.

When a veritable shitstorm broke out on social networks, Farion published a letter from one of her supporters two days after the interview – allegedly a student from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in violation of international law in 2014. In addition to the letter, she also put his personal data online.

Last Monday, reports circulated in pro-Russian Telegram channels in Crimea that the student in question had been summoned by the Russian domestic secret service FSB. Whether this information is true is now the subject of investigations by the Ukrainian secret service SBU.

Students are putting pressure on you

Last Tuesday, students from the polytechnic in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where Farion taught for 30 years, mobilized. Hundreds gathered in front of the university’s main building and demanded Farion’s dismissal. Posters read slogans such as “Down with Farion” and “Iryna Farion is a shame for Ukraine.”

The next day, the SBU became active and initiated an investigation. The allegations are: violation of the equality of citizens, insult to the honor and dignity of a soldier, violation of the secrecy of letters and the confidentiality of telephone conversations or other correspondence transmitted by computer, and violation of privacy.

Just hours later, Farion was fired. According to Ukrainian media reports, the reason given was that it was an immoral crime that was incompatible with continuing a university lectureship.

Farion’s recent verbal outbursts are not the first of their kind and are something of a Trademark of the right-wing foreign politician. A video from 2010 caused a stir in which she worked on supposedly “un-Ukrainian” first names in front of the camera in a kindergarten.

Charismatic woman

“Lisa” was given as an example. The name is derived from the verb lisat`, says Farion. In German it means something like “to lick”. In 2018, when her two-year interlude in the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) was already history, she recommended kicking all “Muscovites” in the jaw in order to win the war.

At most, colleagues from “Svoboda” can gain something from such rhetoric, such as the recent vice-chairman Andrei Ilyenko. People listened to her because she was an intelligent and very charismatic woman, Ilyenko said in a recent interview. Very often she formulates a position that many people agree with but don’t want to talk about.

She is not a politician in the classic sense of the word and does not think about her popularity ratings. The Svoboda party achieved 10 percent in 2012 their best election result. Three years ago the force only received 2 percent of the vote.

Education Minister Oksen Lisowoj also commented on the abrupt end of Farion’s academic career. People who “do not share the values ​​of dignity and have no respect for soldiers have no place in the education system,” the Ukrainian news portal Novoje Vremya quoted him as saying. Farion’s dismissal was particularly due to the demands of students to know how they could “preserve and defend their values.”

If convicted, Farion faces up to seven years in prison. For insulting soldiers and violating the confidentiality of letters.

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