Another wave of protests from students and teachers of Odessa Medical University arose in Kiev and Odessa in the last few days. It is already the second month that the Ministry of Health does not approve the budget of the university for 2019: scholarships, salaries, payments of utility bills are blocked. On February 20, a delegation from the university went to the US Embassy in Ukraine with the requirement to influence the a.i. Minister Ulyana Suprun. At the same time the building of the university in Odessa was surrounded by another protest meeting. Young people with strong bodies demanded to let the members of the Supervisory Board get into the administration building. The mission of “observers” ended with broken windows and doors. To clarify the situation, we appealed to the a.i. rector of ONMedU Yurii Sukhin.
– What is going on in Odessa Medical University? Three protest meetings in two days.
– Two protest meetings and one provocation. On February 20, teachers and students went to Kyiv again, this time to the US Embassy, to request intervention in the current situation at the university. It is critical and comes out of control. Staff without money, a warning about a debt comes to the university from the water channel organization. If nothing changes, buildings, dormitories and university clinics will be de-energized. This can not be allowed. And since the Ukrainian authorities can not influence Ms. Suprun, we asked the US Embassy to do it. Because the head of the Ministry of Health is a citizen of this country. The next day we went to a rally in front of the Odessa regional state administration, and met Governor Maxim Stepanov. He is a representative of the executive power in our city, in liaison with the government, and we asked him to make every effort to coordinate the university budget as soon as possible.
– Comment on the events at the university building. Why did you call them a provocation?
– Our university has regularly become an object of provocation since summer. We do not hear from the rumors who are raiders and provocateurs, what their methods are. On February 20, the university was subject to a raider attack. The organizers knew that at that moment our most active teachers and students were in Kiev. They expected to enter almost an empty university and meet no resistance. We would not have done so anyway, because for this there is a police force in our country. And I am grateful for the prompt response to our call. In the press, the organizers called it a meeting of our teachers and students. Believe me, I know each employee by sight, and our students do not close their faces with balaclavas. If they had been students, then not of higher medical schools, but rather of some sport educational institutions. Moreover, I really doubt that dozens of our students belong to the “National Corps” and other radical organizations whose symbolism we were observing. These people were hired to work as provocateurs and raiders. The Organizers and sponsors are well-known in Odessa.
– Are you talking about Vladlena Dubinina? Do you know any sums?
– I’m talking about Dubinina, about her immediate circle. The same Boldin (Maxim Boldin, former lawyer of Odessa Mayor Edward Hurwitz), who gave away communal property in bundles while working in the city council. He was also at the university. Dubinina’s husband Oleh Lukyanchuk heads the oncology dispensary and, to put it mildly, has not the best reputation. I can not talk about corruption at the institution, this is the competence of the court. But the fact that under his leadership the dispensary has repeatedly appeared in corruption scandals is known. But the Ministry of Health, which at every turn talks about a war with some schemes, is for some reason not interested in it. The MOH has no claims to Dubinina herself, who conceals incomes and declares elite housing at a price that is understated at times. I do not know anything about the sums, I can only assume that hiring an army of thugs, paying for rallies and media is not a cheap pleasure.
– Did the protesters put forward some requirements? Did they explain why they came?
– They demanded to let in their leaders – Dubinina and people’s deputies. They knocked out the glass, damaged the door. It was the first time, when I saw how people’s elected representatives instead of lawmaking broke the door of the administration building. In fact, we have a state building seizure authorized by the authorities. I see a problem of replacing and repairing the damaged without a budget. But we are used to it, we will solve it somehow.
– People’s Deputy David Makaryan called himself a member of the Supervisory Board and asked the police to make a corridor.
– The Supervisory Board of the Odessa Medical University has five people respected in society. Makaryan, like Dubinina, as well as any of their surroundings, is not there. I’ll explain. The activities of the Supervisory Councils of higher educational institutions are regulated by the Law on Higher Education. Article number 37 clearly reads: composition, powers, the format of this body determines the statute of the institution. Of course, our university has a statute, and it is approved by the Ministry of Health. The procedure is described there: the Academic Council proposes candidates, the delegates of the meeting of workers’ association vote, the Rector approves. This is how the Supervisory Board is formed. Its mandate lasts for 5 years.
In exactly the same procedure, in February 2017, Odessa Medical University approved the composition of the Supervisory Board. And in December 2018, the MOH, despite all, issues Decree No. 2380, which creates its Supervisory Board. It includes people’s deputies, including Makaryan, and other individuals.
– All together there are two Supervisory Boards in ONMedU?
– There is only one legitimate one that we created a year ago. Suprun has once again grossly violated the law to hold a dual power at our university. And, you know, after all, it does not even surprise anyone. It is another proof that the state is covering raiders today. And this is a threatening situation not only for the staff of our university, but personally for every citizen of Ukraine.
– It is clear that you do not agree with the position of the Ministry of Health, or with the appointment of Dubinina. But she said she could sign the budget. After all, isn’t it important now that people receive salaries and scholarships?
– You can not agree or disagree with the law, do you understand? You can be obedient to it, like it or not. Vladlena Dubinina, according to the law, can not sign the budget. The court found her appointment illegal. The state registry does not recognize her as a.i. Rector of Odessa Medical University. The budget with her signature can not be approved, by law it is just a piece of paper! Only the legitimate acting rector can sign the document, and I signed it in the early January. This is understood by everyone, except for the Ministry of Health, headed by Suprun. Seven and a half thousand students and employees, people buy bread and go to work on credit. Is it possible in such a situation, whether the actions of the MOH and Dubinina were legal, do you think the staff would not support them? Of course, they would support, the second month all stay without a penny! They speculate on the most painful – the ability of people to feed their families. And, believe me, this is important to people, not the name of the rector. The staff understands that this is a speculation, and absolutely immoral.
– You went out to rallies, turned to the ambassadors, but the problem remains unresolved. You are going to do?
– We will demand compliance with our legitimate rights till we are heard. The team reserves the right to strike. At the meeting with the head of the regional state administration, we clearly expressed our position: we are ready to wait another week. If during this time the Cabinet of Ministers will not find a way out of the situation, we will block the Kiev-Odessa route. Then blocked will be not only one university, but the entire Odessa region. Yes, these are extreme measures, but we are forced to take them.