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: June 28, 2013

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Belarusian-Russian University

Region & Country:Europe | Belarus

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 28, 2013 Valer Berazienka, professor of technical science at Belarusian-Russian University (BRU), was dismissed from his position allegedly due to his political involvement and social activism.
Professor Berazienka alleged that he was repeatedly warned, as early as 2006, by members of the university administration to cease his political activities or face dismissal. Specifically, Professor Berazienka alleges that his dismissal resulted from his involvement with the opposition Belarusian United Left Party “Fair World” and statements he made regarding the fairness of the September 2012 parliamentary elections, during which he served as an electoral observer.
At the time of reporting, BRU had not publically addressed Professor Berazienka’s dismissal but some reports suggested that the reason given for the dismissal was a general reduction of university staff. However, Professor Berazienka was reportedly the only scholar BRU dismissed at the time, while more junior academics and other staff members were not affected by the alleged general reduction.
Professor Berazienka has worked at the department of Equipment and Welding Technology at BRU since 1963. In 2011 he was elected to the university’s Scientific Council for a 5-year term. He is an active member of the Belarusian United Left Party “Fair World” and has served as vice-chairman of the regional organization of the party since 2013.  
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent wrongful dismissal of scholars in retaliation for exercising their freedom of association and peaceful expression. Members of higher education communities have the right to engage in peaceful expression and association without fear of retaliation. An attempt to retaliate for, or otherwise limit, the peaceful exercise of these rights undermines university values and democratic society generally.