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Monday, September 8, 2014


A visiting journalism professor from Russia believes that information – not brute military force – has been the most powerful factor guiding influencing events during the ongoing conflict within Ukraine. 

Victor Khroul, who's spending the fall semester at Robert Morris University as part of the Rooney International Visiting Scholar Program, posits says that in the modern media age, the ability to shape perception through words and images is essential.

"Information warfare was a first stage of the conflict in Ukraine and still is a powerful smokescreen hiding real events. It is extremely difficult to obtain reliable information from the conflict area. Therefore, the audience gets a corrupted picture of what is happening there," says Khroul, an associate professor of journalism at Moscow State University.

Khroul, who has a master's and Ph.D. in journalism from Moscow State University, is eager to engage in discourse with faculty, staff and students at Robert Morris during his time in the Pittsburgh area. He is staying at the Rooney House, which was built when the program was established with a gift from the Dan and Patricia Rooney family.

Jim Vincent, associate professor of English and coordinator of the Rooney International Visiting Scholar Program, says that Khroul's personal and academic background distinguished him from other candidates.

"There was an interest in having a person familiar with Russian education and culture here on campus. Given the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine, he adds a thoughtful voice to the campus conversation," Vincent says. "In addition, his field of study in journalism and mass communication is interesting to us because it's a strong part of our curriculum."

"A very important part of the program is the openness of the Rooney House – it is open to everybody who is interested in exchanging ideas with the guest," Khroul says. "I am very grateful for this opportunity. It is a great honor and a great privilege."

During the next several months, Khroul will give several public and classroom lectures while continuing research related to religion and media relations. (See schedule below.) He says that the Rooney House and idyllic Western Pennsylvania setting have already made his visit a productive and enjoyable one.

"The campus is fantastic, with the hills and greenery. These are very comfortable conditions for any kind of academic work," he says. "I feel very welcome here."

Khroul's schedule of events for the fall is as follows:

Sept. 17: Formal welcome in the Rooney House, 4 p.m.

Oct. 3: "The Modern Face of Information Warfare: Russian vs. Ukraine," 12:35-1:15 p.m. at the Sewall Center

Oct. 13: Public lecture, "What Do Russians Really Think (Or Have in Their Minds)? Public Opinion Polls vs. Spontaneous Texts," 3 p.m. at the Sewall Center

Oct. 23: Public lecture, "Religion and Media in Russia," 3 p.m. at the Sewall Center

Nov. 4: Q&A, "Understanding Russia," 4 p.m. at the Robert Morris University Library