Moscow students protest over World Cup ‘chaos’

Students unhappy about a 25,000-capacity fan zone next to their institution have held demonstrations and circulated petitions

May 29, 2018
Most beautiful universities in Europe - Lomonsov Moscow State University.

A World Cup “fan zone” outside a leading Moscow university is likely to cause havoc during exam season, students have claimed.

The decision to place a ticketed zone for 25,000 football fans at Vorobyovy Gory, a park next to the entrance of Lomonosov Moscow State University, has been criticised by students and academics because they fear that noise from matches will disrupt undergraduate exams, while many also have raised concerns about a “transport collapse” caused by overloaded metro trains.

On 28 April, about 200 students held a protest outside the university – which is Russia’s top-ranked academic institution – about the impending disruption to their exams, while more than 4,500 people have signed a petition calling for a relocation of the fan zone, the Moscow Times reported.

A small protest about the fan zone was also held on 22 May after it emerged many exams due to be rescheduled or relocated during the World Cup, which begins on 14 June, would go ahead next to the fan zone after all.

“The World Cup coincides with the most difficult and stressful time in the whole academic year: exams,” Maria Cheremnova, a physics student, told the Moscow Times. “It will be impossible to calmly prepare in these conditions.”

The fan zone was originally due to be hosted in Red Square, but it was moved to the park next to the Moskva River because alcohol is not permitted to be consumed in Moscow’s iconic square.

Students, many of whom live off-campus, will also have to share their commutes with football fans travelling from the city centre to the nearby Luzhniki Stadium, which has a capacity of 75,000, leading to concerns that the transport system could be overwhelmed.

Strict safety codes in place for the World Cup outlined in a presidential decree from May last year include barring potentially dangerous and radioactive chemicals from being brought near World Cup sites, forcing lab students to put their work on hold.

“Unfortunately, the administration of my university is offering its students and employees just one option: be silent and obediently accept these inconveniences,” said one professor, who asked to remain anonymous.

“We are being told to trust the wise leadership which is supposedly doing everything possible to minimise the harm of the fan zone,” he said. “But, from where I stand, it looks like the administration is putting all its effort into suppressing unhappy students instead of solving the problem.”

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