SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 14, 2012

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):State University of Grodno

Region & Country:Europe | Belarus

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Andrei Charniakevich, an internationally regarded historian, has been dismissed from his position at the State University of Grodno. While tardiness was cited as the reason for his dismissal, it is believed that his dismissal was the result of his recent co-authorship of a book on the history of Grodno, a city in Western Belarus.

Several of the book’s authors have been interviewed by the KGB. The book has drawn the attention of the government as it covers a period ending in 1991, prior to the current government’s rule, and features a Pahonian flag on the cover, a symbol which is associated with the opposition movement. The book has since been removed from the University library and bookstores.

A group of Belarusian and foreign historians and intellectuals opposed Charniakevich’s dismissal in an open letter to the Minister of Education and the Rector of Grodno University. The European Humanities University Senate has condemned the dismissal, calling it a violation of academic freedom that has no place in contemporary Europe.
UPDATE May 22, 2013: It has been reported in the media that during a meeting at the university, Chairman of Grodno State’s Executive Committee, Mr. Siamion Shapira, admitted he had personally ordered Charniakevich’s dismissal. Mr. Shapira also reportedly told the group of academics that he regularly reads KGB reports and knows everything that is happening at the university. He went on to add that he was aware of 16 individuals at the university “who call on overthrowing the authorities.”

Sources: [Russian] [Belarusian] [Polish],13321,professor-shved-my-dismissal-is-politically-motivated.html [Belarusian]
UPDATE: This report is followed by an update. To view, please click here.