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Sanctions demanded against a pro-Russian professor

English translation of main French-language Quebec daily La Presse (Montreal)

« Sanctions réclamées contre un professeur prorusse »

March 23, 2022
By Léa Carrier

Original French below

Professor Michael J. Carley should be sanctioned for his pro-Russian statements, claim students of Ukrainian descent who denounce Université de Montréal’s inaction


“What we want is for him to be restricted in his ability to teach, because he can use his political position to influence his students,” says Katia Sviderskaya.

More concerning than the history professor’s pro-Kremlin statements is the university’s reaction, which shocked the student of Ukrainian descent.

Katia Sviderskaya, student of Ukrainian descent at Université de Montréal

This week, Radio-Canada reported on messages Carley had posted to his Twitter account – now suspended – in which he defended the Russian invasion and called for the cleansing of “Ukrainian neo-Nazis,” repeating the terms used by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Despite the unease generated by his comments, Université de Montréal’s administrators confirmed that Carley, who is not teaching this term, will not be the subject of sanctions.

Geneviève O’Meara, spokesperson for the university, told Radio-Canada, “Mr. Carley enjoys freedom of speech, like any other citizen.”

“He can express his opinions on social media, even when they are at odds with the opinions of other experts on the subject.”

– Geneviève O’Meara, spokesperson for Université de Montréal

To which Katia Sviderskaya’s responded, “Freedom of speech has its limits when an influential professor relays disinformation.”

“He is disseminating totally false information that is based on Russian propaganda. He can do what he likes on his social media, but he is using his status as professor,” deplores the Ukrainian Students Association’s Vice-President, Projects at Université de Montréal.

“Beyond political positions, it is a question of scientific accuracy,” she maintains.

Influencing students

Faced with the university’s “inaction,” Katia Sviderskaya and another student have launched a petition demanding sanctions against Michael J. Carley. She has collected more than 150 signatures, including from many students of Ukrainian descent.

The university confirmed by email that it was aware of the petition. “While Mr. Carley is a professor at Université de Montréal, he is expressing his opinions on Twitter in his capacity as a private citizen and not in the performance of his duties as professor,” reminds O’Meara.

“Committed to the principle of academic freedom, Université de Montréal believes that the quest for truth rests on a disciplined approach, founded on facts, from which diverging perspectives can be challenged,” she added.

If nothing else is done, Katia Sviderskaya is convinced that the professor will encourage pro-Russian students to speak up, as happened last month. At the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, she reports that a classmate backed Carley’s arguments.

“He wrote me to say that he was right on certain points, that the western media was reporting all kinds of things, that there were Nazis in Ukraine…”

– Katia Sviderskaya, student of Ukrainian descent at Université de Montréal

During this time, her grandparents have been living under the Russian invaders in the occupied town of Kherson. Every day, they fear the fighting.

“They are safe and healthy for now, but we don’t know what will happen. They are holding on,” says Katia Sviderskaya, with a sigh.

Original French:

Sanctions réclamées contre un professeur prorusse

Le professeur Michael J. Carley doit être sanctionné pour ses propos prorusses, réclament des étudiants d’origine ukrainienne, qui dénoncent l’inaction de l’Université de Montréal.

Plus que les propos pro-Kremlin du professeur titulaire d’histoire, c’est la réaction de l’Université qui a choqué l’étudiante d’origine ukrainienne.

Ce qu’on veut, c’est qu’il soit limité dans ses possibilités d’enseigner, parce qu’il peut utiliser sa position politique pour influencer ses élèves », laisse tomber Katia Sviderskaya.

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