Paul is scheduled to deliver a keynote address in Washington Friday evening at the International Students for Liberty (SFL) Conference, a confab bringing together some 1,500 students from over 100 countries devoted to the principles of classical liberalism, free markets, and individual rights. But Paul’s presence on the dais has provoked frustration among some members with roots in the former Soviet Union who view the Republican’s statements regarding Russia with disdain.
“Unfortunately, Ron Paul is someone very respected in the West, but if you look very broadly when it comes to Ukraine and Eastern Europe, his rhetoric is pretty insulting to me as an Eastern European,” says Eglė Markevičiūtė, an international board member of SFL and former Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Liberal Youth. In response to SFL’s decision to host Paul this weekend, she started an initiative with two other young libertarians—Alexandra Ivanov, a student at Stockholm University whose father is Russian, and Irena Schneider, a Russian-American—entitled, “I am a classical liberal and I don’t support Ron Paul.”
Citing their experience “marching for liberty” in demonstrations against the reign of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the young women fault Paul—whom they call “an advocate of Russian aggression”—and his eponymous think tank for “regurgitating [Russian] propaganda” alleging that Ukraine’s Maidan revolution was a “fascist coup,” that the annexation of Crimea was legal, and that there are no Russian forces operating in Ukraine.