The vice-rector of the Belgorod State Institute of Arts and Culture (BGIIK), Natalya Baranichenko, has resigned of her own accord in response to a scandal surrounding a pro-Putin video, reports the local news site Bel.ru.
Baranichenko’s contact information has already been removed from the university leadership’s website.
The scandal ensued after students from the university were asked to participate in a “patriotic flash mob” — they gathered in the university’s assembly hall and were asked to dance while holding Russian flags, allegedly for a video honoring Defender of the Fatherland Day (a holiday that falls on February 23). Voiceover was later added to this footage that included the phrases “Putin is our president!” and “Vladimir Vladimirovich, we are with you!” — things the students never actually said during filming.
The video was published on Instagram last week by Belgorod regional deputy Ivan Konev and Belgorod city councilman Ilya Salmin. The students’ parents were outraged and the videos were consequently deleted.
BGIIK rector Sergey Kurgansky and vice-rector Natalya Baranichenko met with the students following the incident. Baranichenko apologized to them, saying that the university was fulfilling a “social order” (sotszakaz). The Telegram channel Belogord No.1 later published a transcript of the meeting.
A number of pro-Putin videos have emerged from the Russian regions recently, but this isn’t the first time this happened. And this isn’t the first incident where participants were tricked into filming them. Meduza’s sources claim that these “patriotic flash mobs'' were organized in the regions on the recommendation of Putin’s administration and the leadership of the ruling party, United Russia. However, this was curtailed because the Kremlin didn’t like the results.