A representative of Daria Varakina, a student at Moscow State University’s History Department, demanded that the professor and head of the ethnology department, Dmitry Funk, be fired. According to the student, he sent her messages that did not meet the standards of business communication, as well as hugged and kissed her without her consent. In addition, Professor Funk allegedly offered Ms. Varakina a money transfer in January. “Do you have anything to eat? Can I at least drop some money?” – The text of that offer was quoted in the letter. The lawyer added that printouts of the messages were attached to the letter – the BBC Russian Service has a copy.

The actions of the teacher caused Daria Varakina deep moral trauma, says Catherine Tyagai. After that, the student was forced to seek psychological help from a specialist, which is documented, according to the complaint.

Catherine Tyagai in a statement demanded to convene an ethical commission to consider the circumstances and assess the behavior of the head of the department of ethnology, to conduct an internal inspection of Dmitri Funk and take measures: up to the dismissal of the professor in connection with the commission of an immoral act.

In support of her demands the lawyer referred to the law “On Education in the Russian Federation”, the Charter and the Ethics Code of Moscow State University, as well as paragraph 8 of paragraph 3 of Article 81 of the Labor Code, which states that the employment contract may be terminated by the employer in case of an employee performing the educational functions, immoral misconduct that are incompatible with the continuation of the job.

Catherine Tyagay also demanded that the MSU Code of Ethics be amended to prohibit any verbal or physical harassment of students by teachers.

Anton Khanjian, chairman of the MSU Student Council, responded to the allegations against the professor. “The accusations are serious, so, of course an official investigation should take place. At the same time, I urge to remember the presumption of innocence – both against the professor and against the student”, – Anton Khanjian said. He urged anyone who encountered such behavior by Professor Funk to report it anonymously.

In response to the public outcry, students and alumni of the Department of Ethnology, as well as students, graduate students and staff at other academic and educational institutions, wrote an open letter. In the appeal, which was reviewed by The Village, they spoke in defense of Dmitri Funk.

“All of us, former and current students as well as Dmitri Funk’s colleagues, know him as a respected scholar, an attentive teacher, and a responsive, open person. Many of us have turned to him regularly for advice, both on academic and personal issues, and have always received help and support,” the letter says.

The authors of the appeal do not claim that the professor is innocent, but urge not to make premature conclusions and wait for the results of “unbiased investigation”. The open letter has already been signed by over a hundred people.

Original article can be found in Russian here.

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