Human Rights in Non-Western Societies: Visiting lecture by Alexander Verkhovsky
The 19th April 2017 the students of the class Human Rights in Non-Western societies were honoured by a guest lecture by Alexander Verkhovsky, a leading authority on ultra-nationalism in the Russian Federation, public activist and director of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.
Mr. Verkhovskiy is the director of "Sova" Think Tank organization, which is research and information centre specialised in problems of nationalism and racism, relations between the churches and secular society, as well as political radicalism. "Sova" also works on the issues of counter-terrorism measures abuse by the government.
He gave a truly in-depth and well informed lecture about hate crime, xenophobia and extreme nationalism in Russia, drawing on the research and experience of his own organisation. This was a unique and very valuable opportunity for the students to gain some insights into the practical world of human rights work, which cannot be fully understood just through books and articles.
As an exchange student at HSE, and a student of Russia and the Post-Soviet Area at my home university, I find studying Human Rights in Non-Western Societies very useful, broadening the perspectives we have on Human Rights, and opening up for discussions of the preassumptions we have of it.
Hilding Thea, student exchange program
The diversity of the class gives rise to interesting debates and discussions of the differing interpretations we have on Human Rights issues, but also the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of Human Rights, that cannot be compromised. Though visiting lectures, like the lecture given by Mr Verkhovsky, students understand further what it is like to work on Human Rights issues within a specific country context, and all the different cultural, political, social and historical aspects that are needed to take into account when trying to understand country-specific cases in practice. It was also very inspiring and motivating to hear the experiences of a true Human Rights advocate.
During the class Mr. Verkhovsky represented the work of the organization, explained main problems of racism and nationalism in Russian society, as well as the reasons of those problems. The students were represented with the Russian criminal legislation concerning elimination of racism and hate speech, as well as statistics of implementation of that legislation by law enforcement bodies.
Mr. Verkhovsky also explained the collisions of anti-extrimism legislation implementation on those who make publications in the Internet. To explain how to avoid criminal charges for publications in the Internet, Mr. Verkhovsy introduced the students with the memo named "Afraid that you are attracted to extremism on the Internet - what to do?" The memo is a brief commentary on anti-extremist norms and collisions associated with their use of any materials on the Internet to the publishers.
For us it was an honor to have such aleader in our circles, giving us insights on his research and own opinion. As our courseconsists of many different students with as many nationalities and different backgrounds, it was especially interesting listening to a research project based in Russia.
Linda Mössler, student exchange program
The lecture given by Mr Verkhovsky was engaging and interesting for all students as well, as the lengthy Q and A session afterwards bore proof of. The students asked questions and clarifications relating to current issues and their own personal interest in the topic. The new perspectives gained from this guest lecture will without doubt be of use for us in students' future studies.