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: October 30, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Loss of Position

Institution(s):Minsk State Linguistic University

Region & Country:Europe | Belarus

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 30, 2020, it was reported that Minsk State Linguistic University (MSLU) had dismissed Italian language professor Natallia Dulina, in apparent connection with her support for a student and faculty strike aimed at pressuring Alexander Lukashenko to resign from Belarus’s presidency. That same day, she was also detained in connection with the strike.

Dulina, who had taught at MSLU since 1991, was considered an informal leader of the strike, according to Nasha Niva. Dulina, along with faculty members and students held demonstrations on campus to protest Lukashenko and the arrests of students from MSLU and other universities who had participated in protests.

MSLU officials had reportedly asked for Dulina’s resignation on October 29. The next day, it was reported that Dulina had been fired for alleged repeated absenteeism.

News reports also indicate that state authorities detained Dulina near the MSLU campus. She was then kept in state custody for 14 days on a charge relating to the strike.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the dismissal and detention of a scholar in apparent connection with their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a party. State and university authorities should refrain from actions intended to deter, restrict, or punish such activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such use of detentions and university disciplinary actions undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

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