Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Prague university has research centre named after critic of Putin

9 February 2018

Prague, Feb 8 (CTK) - Prague's Charles University (UK) opened a centre for the research of Russia named after murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov on Thursday, with Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky expressing hope for the new centre to help cultivate Czech-Russian relations that are not ideal now.

Stropnicky (ANO) pointed out the long tradition of Czech-Russian relations.

"At present, Czech-Russian relations are not ideal, and they cannot be, since the security situation has changed in recent years," Stropnicky said at the UK's Faculty of Arts, where the Boris Nemtsov Academic Centre for the Research of Russia is based.

Understanding between the two nations persists, he said.

"I would like the students and academics to contribute to the cultivation of this naturally close relation, which does exist," Stropnicky said.

The centre, led by Russian political scientist Alexandr Morozov and Slav studies expert Marek Prihoda, will associate experts, cooperate with other research and academic centres and organise lectures and scientific conferences.

Nemtsov's daughter Zhanna, who assisted in founding the centre, said at the opening ceremony that her father is mainly known as politician, but he was also a physicist.

That is why it is good that an academic centre has been established at the Faculty of Arts, since physicists, too, are often philosophers, she said.

Nemtsov was one of the leading critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was shot dead while crossing a bridge in Moscow in February 2015. Chechen Zaur Dadayev was sentenced for the murder to 20 years in prison and his four accomplices received sentences from 11 to 19 years.

According to Nemtsov daughter's defence lawyer, however, the real organisers and initiators of the murder were never found.

Faculty of Arts Dean Michal Pullman said the tradition of Russian studies at Charles University dates back to the interwar period. He said he hopes that the centre will enhance this study branch and open space for a debate on issues related to current Russian society and state.

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