Odessa National Medical University is one of the oldest and most famous universities in Ukraine, for more than 100 years delivering modern medical education to thousands of ukrainian and international students. Lately, however, the work of the university was put in danger by constant pressure and illegal reviews by the governmental bodies and social activists, causing great outrage among university students and staff. The situation escalated this morning, as University fell victim to a scandalous raider seizure. 

 

It all began on July 16, when a so-called revision group, sent by Ministry of Healthcare, arrived to the university for an illegal revision. Supposing that group members were far from being all Ministry's employees, the group was asked to demonstrate sufficient documents that would have allowed them to enter. The group, however, refused to prove legal identification and therefore claimed that university officials denied its access.

 

On July 17, Ministry of Healthcare issued a statement that they were prematurely terminating the working contract with university's rector, Professor Valeriy Zaporozhan, in the aftermath of a so-called "entry denial" to the group sent by Ministry. Because of the growing pressure and the lack of possibility to concentrate work on its main purpose - teaching and researching - university's functioning was already highly compromised.

 

But the most scandalous actions took place today, on July 20. At about 9:20 in the morning, a group of 30 young and athletic-fit men entered the university's administrative building, despite being denied access. The unidentified men simply used force to get inside - jumping over turnstiles, cracking doors and smashing the windows. After that, the group barricaded itself from inside of the rector's office. Security hit immediately an emergency police call button - but even before the police, a people's deputy, Sergiy Melnichiuk, has arrived at the place, trying to gain illegal access inside.  The whole raider seizure is said to be organised by Melnichiuk himself, and Konstantin Aymedov, who was assigned the position of the acting rector by the ministry. A day before, staff of Odessa National Medical University denied Aymedov's access to the working place, since the decision to fire rector Zaporozhan was clearly illegal.

Sergiy Melnichiuk at the university on 20/07:

The group, still barricaded inside the office, denies to participate in negotiations. While police is trying to enter the office, the access was given only to other activist groups. While university employees, together with the students and media, are gathered outside, a threat of a forced seizure of an educational institution is becoming a reality. The situation gets a massive coverage in social media, with students showing great support to their alma-mater, as well as great concern about the outcome of the situation.

Video of the seizure: https://youtu.be/IQuOIPccBAQ

A raider seizure is something unacceptable and unthinkable in a modern society, yet it is something happening right now, putting in danger the whole university, with thousands of students and employees. But worse, it's putting in danger the whole country, where such things could take place and be initiated by the government. After the revolution not so long ago, Ukrainians are trying to take course of restoring the nation, while clearly the country's government is still not over the past schemes of raiding. 

 

Published by Valérie Visconti