“The faculty considers this act immoral”. Moscow State University expels student who renamed Wi‑Fi network “Glory to Ukraine!”
Павел Васильев
“The faculty considers this act immoral”. Moscow State University expels student who renamed Wi‑Fi network “Glory to Ukraine!”
3 April 2024, 4:55

MSU main building. Photo: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Moscow State University (MSU) has expelled 22-year-old student Oleg Tarasov for renaming a Wi-Fi network. The young man replaced the default name with “Slava Ukraine!” (“Glory to Ukraine!”) to mock another student who had used symbols of the Russian invasion of Ukraine—Latin letters “Z” and “V”—in their network name. The renamed network also served as a pretext for Tarasov’s persecution by the police and a 10-day arrest, which he spent in the Sakharovo detention centre. We spoke with the student about his experience.

On March 6, after returning from a morning workout at the gym, Oleg Tarasov found several police officers in his dormitory room. Some of them had automatic weapons, while another was filming everything with a camera. The first thing the security forces asked the student was why he had hung an American flag on the wall, then they switched to his haircut—Tarasov had recently started shaving his head. “They also asked something like, hinting that I was an extremist,” Oleg tells Mediazona.

Only after that did the police reveal the reason for their visit—they were interested in why he had named his Wi-Fi network “Slava Ukraine!”

Oleg Tarasov is 22 years old and was in his third year at the MSU Public Administration School. About a year ago, Tarasov tells Mediazona, he did indeed rename his network to “Slava Ukraine”—as a joke aimed at another student who had put the Latin letters “Z” and “V”, symbols of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in his Wi-Fi network name. “I decided to mock him like that. My neighbour and I just saw it, I changed the name, we laughed, and forgot about it,” says Tarasov.

Oleg Tarasov. Photo: personal VK account

The police demanded that he unlock his laptop, after which they searched the hard drive for any mentions of Ukraine. Finding nothing, the security forces took Tarasov to the police department, while on the way advising him to “prepare for the worst,” threatening expulsion. It is unclear who exactly complained about Tarasov’s Wi-Fi network.

At the department, Tarasov gave explanations for about an hour and a half. “Initially, they asked some political questions. I tried to answer honestly. I said that I did not consider the referendums held in the new territories to be fair, because I myself had once worked in the Moscow mayoral elections and saw how ballot stuffing took place,” the man recalls.

The student was also asked if he was ready to go to war “the day after tomorrow,” and was asked many personal questions. As a result, a protocol was drawn up against him under the article on the demonstration of extremist symbols, and he was left overnight in a temporary detention facility.

The next day, the Nikulinsky District Court of Moscow found Tarasov guilty and sentenced him to 10 days of administrative arrest. Judge Mikhail Maksimov considered that the student had changed the factory Wi-Fi name “with the aim of propagating the slogan of Ukrainian nationalists.” The court ordered the router itself to be confiscated.

Tarasov was sent to serve his administrative arrest in the Sakharovo detention centre. There, the student read books and played dominoes with others.

While Tarasov was serving his arrest, an ethics committee was convened at MSU to address the incident with the Wi-Fi renaming, at which it was decided to expel the student for violating the university’s charter.

After his release, the committee met for a second time to allow the student himself to speak. As Tarasov recalls, about 20–30 people gathered: students, teachers, and the deputy dean. This meeting lasted no more than five minutes. At it, the student admitted that he had renamed the network to mock Z-symbols.

“Oleg Sergeevich, I would like to remind you that you are studying at Moscow University at the expense of the federal budget, and that our country and its armed forces are conducting a special military operation in Ukraine in accordance with the normative documents that were adopted in this regard,” said Deputy Dean Maksim Fomenko. “Your actions, which you committed, and which you yourself admitted to, and you do not renounce your words—we understood that this is your firm opinion. The faculty considers this act immoral and decides to expel you.”

“I can add that I consider this [expulsion] immoral and wrong,” Tarasov replied, adding that he intends to appeal the expulsion order. Now he plans to find an IT job—since December, he has been independently studying to become a coder.

The student was given two weeks to move out of the dormitory and has already begun selling his belongings. Under a post about selling a microwave, some users began to harass Tarasov for his Wi-Fi joke. “Nazi collaborators, are you confused about something? Be grateful to our authorities for their humanity, that this creature was only expelled,” one commenter wrote. “Now the rest of you who left comments here will be dealt with.”

Editor: Dmitry Treschanin

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