Social media users, as well as one of Russia’s largest TV channels, Rossiya 1, shared misleading claims on Sunday that Oxford University had begun to revoke the degrees of 10,000 students linked to the Kremlin.
Any student with ties to Russian officials who has graduated since 2014 is at risk, according to the report.
British police are already destroying degree certificates and students will not be reimbursed for their tuition fees, Panorama said in a report.
The story was originally taken from an article published on the Russian satirical website Panorama.
Each article is accompanied by a prominent disclaimer stating that “all text on this site is a grotesque parody of reality, not real news.”
The Panorama article even contained a falsified quote from the university’s alleged Vice-Chancellor, who was called Sir Louis Lawrence: “We are a democratic country, and we cannot issue diplomas to representatives of barbaric and totalitarian regimes.”
The satirical site fabricated not only the statement, but also the name. In fact, the Vice-Chancellor since 2016 is Professor Louise Richardson.
Despite this, Russia 1 host Dmitry Kiselev cited the allegations as an example of the West’s “absurd” sanctions against Russia.
It was only after a nearly two-minute tirade that Kiselyov admitted that the information was a joke.
However, he went on to say that the policy sounded very realistic and “believable”.
In a tweet, the site that wrote the satirical article posted an excerpt from a TV program with the caption: “We’re back on TV!”
However, some social media users have caught on to the story, going online to express horror at the “news” they see as an example of Russophobia in European institutions.
One user wrote on Facebook that this was a “nasty” policy, while another saw the positive side of the proposed decision, saying it could be an opportunity to boost the “prestige of Russian universities.”
When approached with the Rossiya 1 footage and the Panorama article, the University of Oxford confirmed that the claims were “incorrect”.