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: August 30, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Loss of Position

Institution(s):Higher School of Economics

Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 30, 2020, unidentified individuals reportedly beat Igor Jukov, a prominent student activist and blogger, in apparent retaliation for his public criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

On December 6, 2020, Jukov had been convicted of the crime of “inciting terrorism” after he published a video on YouTube about a July 27, 2019 protest in Moscow in response to the decision by authorities to ban several opposition candidates from participating in city council elections. He received a three-year suspended sentence and was barred from administering websites for two years (see report).

On August 30, 2020, Jukov reportedly published a video on his YouTube channel, in which he stated that the Higher School of Economics informed him that he would not be enrolled this year, despite having previously been accepted into a masters program. In the video, Jukov also spoke critically of President Putin. Hours after the video was published, according to reports, two unidentified individuals violently beat Juvok in front of his home. Jukov was hospitalized for a concussion and closed craniocerebral injury. As of this report, authorities have not publicly disclosed the identities of the assailants.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent, targeted attack and disciplinary measures against a student in apparent connection with his nonviolent expressive activities. State authorities have a responsibility to investigate such incidents, hold perpetrators accountable, and take all available measures to ensure a safe, open, and free university space. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against expressive activity, so long as it is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents undermine academic freedom and harm democratic society generally.