We met Boris Desten Missamu, the student of Moscow State University of Food Production, five years ago. He arrived from Pointe-Noire, the second-largest city of Republic of Congo. The situation in the country used to be and still is unfavorable. Boris himself is from a poor family, his mother is a housewife who raises several children by herself. He proved to be a capable guy, managed to enter university and when he was on his second year, he won the competition for education in Russian university.
In the framework of this program he arrived to Moscow and at once was enrolled at the first grade of Moscow State University of Food Production. Yet he could not carry out his studies peacefully: on May 9, 2010 he was beaten up by nationalistic fellow students, who have never been punished for that, although their names were well-known to the rector’s office. His complaint about the attack wasn’t even filed at OVD (Department of Internal Affairs) Sokol, where he was told: “it is Russia” and “today is Friday already and a holiday anyway”.
Nevertheless, the university leaders punished Boris Desten; already on May 12, he was expelled for “participating in the incident resulted in fighting in the territory of students’ residence”. At once he was evicted from the residence; he couldn’t even pick up his belongings. Signatures collection for the rector’s office and personally rector Dmitriy Yedelev, who still holds this position, as well as public campaign did not bring any results – Missamu was not reinstated.
Only two years later, which proved to be very difficult years for Boris Desten, who had to wander, stay at the office of Civic Assistance Committee and return to Congo, – due to perseverance of the lawyer and workers of project “Help to victims of hate crimes”, Civic Assistance Committee – he managed to obtain justice. On March 14, 2012, Moscow City court upheld the decision of Savelovsky court which had been appealed by the university on reinstatement in the university.
Our aim was not to reinstate him at the same university – he was subject to ill-treatment there and they could be cruel to him again. Svetlana Gannushkina, president of Civic Assistance Committee, was corresponding with Ministry of Education, communicating with the deputy minister and we were promised: in case we win the action, he will be admitted to another university. We have won the case. As for Boris, he was very fortunate since he could not complete his education in Congo: according to local legislation, it wasn’t allowed for those over 25 years old and Boris had already turned 26.
In September 2012, Boris came back to Russia to enter Voronezh State University of Engineering Technologies. He chose this university partially on the recommendation of Civic Assistance Committee because in Voronezh the office of Youth Human Rights Movement is situated and in case of attack he could obtain assistance there.
However all was well, Boris has received bachelor degree and at the beginning of June was to receive a diploma. Now he needs to continue his studies and start MA course; according to Boris, without it, it would be difficult for him to find a decent job in Congo. However, how Boris can do this course is not clear even for the head of the university: the exchange program was finished and, according to the standard procedure, such students are supposed to pay for the education. Boris Desten’s family can’t afford to pay fee.
The head of the university, Evgeniy Chertov in his letter to the ambassador of Congo describes Boris as a talented and responsible student, who does very well, and expresses his wish to admit him to MA course. But while the Embassy of Congo doesn’t respond to the letter, Civic Assistance Committee sent to Ministry of Education a request to provide the Congolese with the state-funded place in the University.
It was not the first appeal to the Embassy of Congo. While the litigation was on, the Embassy’s representative visited the Moscow university from which Boris Desten was expelled, yet it didn’t bring any positive results for the student. According to Boris, he has never received any scholarship which had been promised by the condition of competition. Now he lives on the scholarship of Russian university which is only 2 000 Rubles per month.
“There is the initial assignment which is also the contract for a Specialist Degree. It reads that in case the curriculum consists of bachelor degree course and MA course, I will be able to start MA course on a competitive basis. Unfortunately, two years were wasted due to unfair expel and that seems to be a problem now. I ask the Embassy to give me a chance to complete my education – bachelor degree doesn’t mean much in Congo. In our country we have many problems in the field of ecology, however industry is growing, life is getting better – competent specialists are needed. Yet bachelors are not considered competent specialists, ” Boris explains.
The chance of further education for Boris Desten depends on high rank officials and diplomats. Whether they allow the student who had already suffered from Russian reality to receive the higher education for which he tried so hard – time will tell.
Photo by Alexander Fiodorov