Appeal to the Ukrainian President and International Academic Community

September 18, 2014
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Appeal to the Ukrainian President and International Academic Community

Dear Mr. President!

Dear international academic community and Ukrainian society!

The Donbas intellectual elite addresses you with the following appeal:

On September 10, 2014 Donetsk National University (DonNU) was illegally seized. As a result, armed representatives of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) sealed the offices of the rector and vice-rectors, the accounting department and other administrative units of the University that ensure operations and daily activities of DonNU. Professor Yury Lysenko (who was appointed as rector of DonNU by the Decree of the “Minister of Education” of the so-called DPR) claimed that the information about his appointment as a rector «does not have any legal foundation and is not based on any agreements». On September 11, 2014 DonNU has returned to the regular working mode. However, we cannot ignore the fact of encroachment on the autonomy of the university and the academic community, as well as the students’ and their parents’ involuntary involvement in politics and war.

Donetsk National University has been for 75 years and remains today at the Eastern frontier of national science and education of Ukraine, a role that we declared in our official statement from September 4, 2014. Even under current difficult moral and physical conditions, the University continues to fulfill its obligations towards students and Ukraine!

Today, DonNU is the only institution that publicly and officially assumed pro-Ukrainian position in Donbas. The intellectual elite of Ukraine and Donbas appeals to Ukrainian society, the state, and to the international community with the pledge "Save DonNU and save Ukraine in Donbas!"

Donetsk National University is not only the employer of over 2 thousand faculty members and staff, or place of study for 20 thousand students, it is a community that no one has left throughout the difficult times. Today, these people are in need of the state’s protection and public support. The university is not office space, buildings or certificates, it is first of all people, scholarship and collective spirit! Since June 2014, the Ukrainian state has stopped financing DonNU and today remains silent in regards to the current events. 

If the Ukrainian society and the state will continue to ignore this problem, we can bury the idea of a Ukrainian Donbas, and thus Ukraine. This is especially relevant in the context of the passed bill on the "special status for the occupied territories." If we lose one part of Donbas today, tomorrow we will lose entire Ukraine! What happened on September 10, 2014 was not only an infringement of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, it was an act of destruction of the national education, culture, the Donbas intellectual elite and of the future for the entire region.

We request an immediate intervention of the President, the Cabinet of Ministers and law enforcement authorities of Ukraine, the academic community, journalists and the public in defense of Donetsk National University, which remains a part of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine! Today, not just the history of one university and the fate of 22 thousand people are being decided, the fate of Ukraine is at stake!

From the Editors:
For reasons of safety and due to immediate threat to their lives from the representatives of the "DPR," the authors and signatories of this appeal requested to remain anonymous. Krytyka confirms the authenticity of this letter.

If you would like to sign this appeal, please send us an Email at and include your name, position, affiliation, city and country of residence. All names will be published here in the order of their arrival. 

Update (September 19, 2014): According to the report (in Russian; English translation available here) of the news outlet Novosti Donbassa (Donbas News), today armed representatives of the "DPR" occupied the offices of the Chair of Ukrainian History and announced its dissolution. "DPR" representatives were accompanied by Sergei Baryshnikov who was recently appointed the new rector of the university by the "DPR" "minister of education" Igor Kostenok. According to witness reports, Igor Kostenok announced that Donetsk National University will now become a branch of the Moscow State University. 

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