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The chain of events: MSU students against the fan zone of the 2018 World Cup

Students complain about evictions from hostels and disruption of school. They have already canceled the cancellation of the forced early session.

The main building of Moscow State University. Photo by Maxim Blinov, RIA Novosti
The main building of Moscow State University. Photo by Maxim Blinov, RIA Novosti

February 21 students of the Moscow State University tried to pass to the rector of the university Viktor Sadovnichhemu four thousand signatures against the creation of the main building of the university fan zone of the World Cup. The meeting did not take place, but the protesters were prevented by security guards, police and unknown people.

The fan zone will be located next to the hostels, in which, presumably, 6,5 thousand people live. Students from 2017 complain that because of the site it will be impossible to study, take exams and conduct scientific work. They are going to be temporarily evicted from hostels, as well as students in other cities-organizers of the 2018 World Cup.

April 2016

FIFA approved the list of grounds for fans of the 2018 World Cup. The only in Moscow and the largest fan zone in Russia were Vorobyovy Gory – more than 42 thousand people.

Initially, the fan zone was planned to be installed on Red Square, but the organizers complained that there was not enough space (supposedly it would accommodate no more than 11 thousand people). Students notedthat the university area of ​​the Moscow State University is about the same size as it, and suspected that the authorities moved the site because of fear of repetition of the riots in the Manege Square.

Students at the Moscow State University said that before the approval of the fan zone, no one consulted with them. In the Moscow mayor’s office, they were told that there was no other place for fans, except Vorobyovy Gory.

April 2017

On the site of state purchases , the concept of a fan zone on the Vorobyovy Gory mountains was published , which gave students of MSU another reason for protests. According to the document, a huge screen, parking, FIFA office, the largest store with paraphernalia and sponsors’ points, centers for journalists, volunteers and organizers, as well as duty points for police, rescuers, the Federal Security Service and the Federal Security Service will be installed at the main building of the university.

The beginning of the installation is scheduled for May 10. The fan zone near the building of the Moscow State University will be located for a month (from June 14 to July 15) and dismantled by July 24 – nine days after the end of the championship.

Plan for arranging a fan zone in the territory of Moscow State University
Plan for arranging a fan zone in the territory of Moscow State University

For comparison: during the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil, the fan zone was equipped on the beach in Rio, for the European Championships in France-2016, the fan base is located near the Eiffel Tower.

June 2017

Association “Initiative group of students, graduate students and employees of the Moscow State University” launched a petition on Change.org to Vladimir Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin – she collected more than 11,000 signatures. The students were asked to transfer the fan zone to VDNKh .

The fan zone will work almost daily, from about mid-day to midnight. According to the authors of the petition, the site “right under the windows of hostels” will lead to constant noise and restrictions – both at the nearest metro stations and at the entrance to the main building. The educational process and exams at Moscow State University are threatened with disruption, normal preparation for classes will become impossible , opponents of the fan zone are sure. The abundance of representatives of riot police and Rosgvardii “create an atmosphere of a besieged fortress”, stated the representatives of the association.

The efforts of the Russian organizing committee of the World Cup and the government of Moscow for the first time in the history of the world championships one of the largest fan zones will be located on the territory of the university during the training process and for the first time in the history of the world championships the fan zone will be located directly at the walls of the residential building.

MSU Initiative Group
quote from the community entry in “VKontakte”

The students also accused the Moscow authorities of intending to destroy the park in front of the Moscow State University for the sake of the fan zone. In conversation with students before the scandal, the playground for fans was presented as an accomplishment, and the place in front of the main building was left empty “public space for the holding of festivals”.

August 2017

After student protests, the authorities of Moscow canceled the tender for the improvement of the place for the fan zone near the main building of Moscow State University, the cost of which was 2.7 billion rubles. According to the assumptions of the students, a “real restoration” instead of “destroying the territory” is supposed to be a new tender.

December 2017

The MSU Rector partially listened to the students at the Moscow State University, moving the stage and the screen 300 meters from the main building. The capacity of the fan zone was reduced from 40 to 25 thousand people, on the site they ordered to install soundproof screens. The students considered the changes to be of little significance.

January 2018

According to the students, on January 23 the MSU rectorate finally decided to shorten the terms of the spring semester to send them on vacation before the World Cup 2018. According to the new plan, classes, tests and examinations were to be completed a few weeks earlier than usual. A clear example from the statement of the initiative group: some faculties were tasked to conduct six exams for 13 days of the session. There was no official order, but such plans were reported as early as 2017.

The initiative group also learned that immediately after June 13, all hostels are planned to be closed before the end of the championship . Officially, students can live in hostels year round, including with families. Many of them were going to stay for the time of the 2018 World Cup.

The same situation with hostels at universities is observed in other cities-organizers of the championship. In hostels, universities intend to occupy the police and the staff of Rosgvardia.

February 2018

On February 13, MSU students began to collect signatures at the address to the rector Viktor Sadovnichy. The initiative group wants that he openly demanded the transfer of the fan zone from Vorobyovy Gory, and also did not allow the closure of the buildings and hostels for the World Cup.

On February 21, opponents of the fan zone  Sadovnichy more than four thousand signatures of students, graduate students and staff of the Moscow State University. However, to their arrival in the main building, the guards closed the stairs and elevators. Arriving police detained two journalists. The university leadership refused to meet with students, during their visit the rector acted at a concert in the assembly hall.

On the same day, the MSU rectorate issued an order stating that the session would be held in “traditional” terms. The students noticed that “this is not a victory”, because the university has not yet stated that the fan zone harms the educational process and scientific work.

By the time the note was written, the action at MSU was over, but the students did not meet with the rector. According to students, they were approached by university staff and unknown people, trying to disperse. According to the initiative group, a meeting with the rector will be held on March 1 .

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