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: December 01, 2020

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 1, 2020, the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) expelled student Pavel Krysevich for his participation in a demonstration in front of the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) building.

During a November 5, 2020 demonstration in support of political prisoners in Russia, Krysevich recreated a crucifixion, hanging himself on a cross above folders containing written descriptions of the cases of political prisoners. The activists set fire to the folders as part of Krysevich’s performance piece. Federal Protective Service officers arrested Krysevich, and held him at the Moscow Special Detention Center for fifteen days under administrative arrest.

On December 1, RUDN expelled Krysevich for violating the “internal order of students at RUDN” and not acting in correspondence to the “moral image of a future specialist.”

On December 22, Krysevich filed a lawsuit with the Gagarinsky Court of Moscow, demanding the court rule that his expulsion was illegal and that he be reinstated at RUDN and compensated 500,000 Russian Rubles (6,562.50 USD) for moral damage.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the expulsion of a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party. 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, expulsions aimed at retaliating against such activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On February 17, 2021, the Gagarinsky District Court of Moscow dismissed Krysevich’s claim. His defense intends to appeal the court’s decision.