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: April 14, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution


Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 14, 2021, police raided the office of a student magazine and arrested four student editors in connection with a video they had posted on their magazine’s website.

On January 26, 2021, it was reported that the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) ordered the student magazine DOXA to take down a video it had published on its web platform four days earlier. According to DOXA, in the video, the DOXA’s editorial board tells other students not to fear expulsion from their universities or schools for participating in a demonstration. Roskomnadzor alleged that the video “persuaded or otherwise involved minors in committing illegal actions that pose a threat to their life and health.” On January 26, DOXA took the video down, but reportedly filed a lawsuit against Roskomnadzor challenging the order.

On April 14, police conducted searches of the DOXA office and the homes of student editors, Alla Gutnikova, Natalya Tyshkevich, and Vladimir Metelkin, and student editor-in-chief Armen Aramyan. Police then arrested the four student editors on charges of “involving minors in committing illegal actions.” If convicted, the student editors could face up to three years in prison. The Basmanny District Court of Moscow ordered the student editors placed under house arrest, without internet access or the ability to contact anyone besides their lawyers and families without the approval of the investigator.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and prosecution of students in apparent retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression — 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 Russia is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against expressive activities so long as they are peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of arrests and prosecutions in response to peaceful student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.