PRAGUE: Rector defends rights of anarchist student

The Rector of the Charles University, Professor Tomáš Zima, has stepped into a row over the threatened expulsion of a Russian anarchist student, whose student visa has been revoked by the Czech authorities. In an open letter to Interior the Czech Minister Milan Chovanc (ČSSD), the Rector argues that the move against the student, Igor Ševcov, was “totally disproportionate”. Ševcov was originally indicted for throwing ‘fire bottles’ at the House of the Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO), though in the end he was charged only with keeping look-out for his colleagues who were spraying slogans. He was banned from public demonstrations for three years. According to supportive news sources, his visa was revoked due to an administrative error related to the earlier charges. The Rector is now appealing to return his visa, for fear that his life would be threatened in Russia. Professor Zima argues that Ševcov has already been politically persecuted in Russia, and would face further persecution for his political views, and lose his chance to finish his studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, where he is seen as a diligent student. In his recent annual University address, Professor Zima promised to defend truth, democracy and freedom.