A group of academics are demanding that honorary degrees awarded by Greek universities to Russian President Vladimir Putin be rescinded in response to his invasion of Ukraine.
In a petition for which signatures are still being gathered, the academics say that their demand is the least they can do, as citizens of Greece and Europe, to show solidarity for the plight of the Ukrainian people.
“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, as well as a former deputy minister of education, said in comments to 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, adding that “silence has no place in the face of our duty to take a strong position against totalitarianism, authoritarianism and violations of international law.”
The most recent honor awarded to Putin was on February 22, 2018, when he received 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.”
The decision had a fair amount of detractors, also from within the university community. Mainly as a result of these reactions, the planned ceremony in Kalamata in the Peloponnese, where the department is located, was postponed.
It was eventually held at the Russian Embassy in Athens, in the presence of George Katrougalos, Greece’s deputy foreign minister at the time.