On March 2nd, the Moscow State University issued the following statement (English translation by Ivan Korolev was lightly edited by me; original Russian is here):

Address by Members of the MSU Academic Council

Dear people of Moscow State University!

Throughout its history, Moscow State University has been committed to its mission, preserving and developing the traditions of Russian education in the Russian domestic and international scientific and educational space.

Today our country is going through difficult times. Russian President Vladimir Putin has exhaustively explained the reasons for the difficult decision to conduct a special military operation.

The events of recent days leave no one indifferent. We are acutely feeling what is happening, but we are convinced that we must get through this period with pride, University-style, following the principles of high academic culture and ethics. Throughout its centuries-long history, universities have lived through different times, but have always preserved their high humanistic ideals.

Our task in today’s difficult conditions is to maintain the culture of trust and unity of the University community; the high quality and accessibility of higher education; and the atmosphere of mutual assistance and understanding among the students and faculty of Moscow State University.

The present situation requires consolidation of the university community. The most important part of the university are students. Our task is to provide psychological support to all those who need it. Particular attention should be paid to international students studying in Russia, as well as to Russian students who have encountered some problems in a number of foreign countries.

We anticipate difficulties related to the development of scientific infrastructure, conducting joint international research, and publishing articles in foreign scientific journals.

Moscow University will continue to develop its international relations, which have developed over decades, convincing reliable partners of the need to continue working together to find answers to global challenges, and in the name of preserving the world’s scientific heritage.

The Academic Council of Moscow University expresses its confidence that the university community will, with joint efforts, overcome temporary difficulties and ensure the continuity of educational and scientific processes and achievement of the national development goals of Russia!

Adopted by the members of the MSU Academic Council


At first glance, this statement sounds like something any university would issue in a similar situation: let’s come together, stay united, and support our students. And maybe Ukrainian students are meant to be included in the generic “international students studying in Russia.” The only clear indication of who the University supports is the sentence “Russian President Vladimir Putin has exhaustively explained the reasons for the difficult decision to conduct a special military operation.

But omissions and carefully worded, sufficiently vague phrases can be more insidious than outright lies because they are harder to counteract. With enough of them, you start subconsciously believing the picture being carefully painted in front of you, caring about things that are highlighted and discounting things that are not being mentioned. You can try to argue with whoever wrote this statement about needing to say more about the plight of Ukrainians and they might tell you that, sure, Ukrainians are suffering (not because of Russia of course), and that’s covered by “acutely feeling what is happening”, so what more do you want?

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