A Hungarian university is to offer Vladimir Putin honorary citizenship, the highest award it can bestow, according to local reports.
Hungarian and Russian press reports suggest that the University of Debrecen is to play a leading role in a new Russian-funded nuclear power plant, training engineers and conducting research projects, and as a result has decided to honour the Russian president.
Based in the east of Hungary, the university awards the honour to people who “participate in public life or in the arts in an outstanding manner and who with their work, as well as their moral or financial support have helped to strengthen the university or one of its organisational units,” according to the Hungarian Free Press website.
Mr Putin is currently visiting Hungary, where he said construction of the new power plant could commence next year.
There is concern in Hungary that the government – accused by critics of being too close to Russia at the expense of relations with Brussels – is bringing universities under its control by creating new government-appointed chancellor positions to oversee institutional finances.
The chancellor of Debrecen has been accused of undermining university faculty support for the threatened Central European University by publicly stating that they do not represent the entire institution.
The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the award.