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 Putin Leads State Campaign to Close the Russian Mind - The Washington Post

The editorial of The Washington Post writes about the decision of the Russia’s government that suspends the country’s participation in FLEX, a highly respected, 21-year-old student exchange program that brings Russian teenagers to the United States for a year of study.

Censor.NET reports about this, citing The Washington Post.

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"Pavel Astakhov, the country's child rights ombudsman, explained that Russia had to cancel the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) after a student decided to stay in America after his program ended - with "a U.S. homosexual couple."

The decision is one of many swipes Russia's government has taken at the West lately as tensions over Ukraine continue. It also reflects many of the strands of intellectual cowardice and cultural reaction that Russia's leaders, led by President Vladimir Putin, have over the past several years woven into a mandate to rule.

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There is homophobia. Mr. Putin's government has engaged in an evil assault on one of history's most vulnerable minorities. Russia last year adopted a law forbidding " propaganda of nontraditional sexual practices " among minors.

There is xenophobia. The American Councils for International Education, which runs FLEX, avoids pushing a political agenda on the students, leaving it up to them and their American hosts to engage in a cultural exchange that might - or might not - involve discussion of international politics. "For nine long months, not a single day passed when I didn't talk about Russia with enormous, boundless love," a FLEX alumna recalled on social media after her government axed the program. We don't believe the Russian government is afraid of a student or two overstaying the exchange. Rather, the country's rulers fear what the vast majority who return will be like when they get back - less susceptible to Mr. Putin's Cold War mentality and rhetoric premised on painting the West as a perpetual adversary.

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Then there is Mr. Putin's ongoing crusade against civil society and anti-corruption movements. His government has persecuted nongovernmental organizations, including human rights campaigners, gay rights organizations, women's groups and anti-discrimination outfits, passing laws that designate them "foreign agents."

From Mr. Putin's perspective at the head of a highly corrupt cronyist state, organizations such as American Councils pose a threat merely because they have integrity. The competition for a slot in one of its prized exchange programs isn't rigged to benefit local bosses; for once, students succeed based on merit. Countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Ukraine have gone one better and tapped American Councils to administer their university admissions exams. Mr. Putin has instead decided to limit the organization's work.

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Mark another chapter in the state-led campaign to close the Russian mind. As usual, it will be Russia's people who suffer," The Washington Post concludes.

Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/n305719