In June 2021, Mogilev State University (MSU) administration forced the resignations of three professors in apparent retaliation for their participation in nationwide protests against the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko and social media expression critical of the government.
On May 31, a certification commission at MSU, charged with reviewing faculty performance, finished their review process and subsequently asked three professors to resign. The three academics are Aliaksandr Aheeu, a professor of archeology and history of Belarus; Ihar Sharukho, a professor of natural sciences; and Vital Yaumenkou, an associate professor of journalism. Sharukho reported to NNBay that the commission focused on their public expression and social media posts rather than their academic work. All three resigned, per the commission’s order.
Protests erupted across Belarus in 2020 following President Lukashenko’s re-election. International observers described the election as not being free or fair. Students and faculty, including Aheeu, Sharukho, and Yaumenkou, have been actively involved in the protests. On October 27, 2020, Lukashenko called for the expulsion of students and faculty participating in the protests.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the termination of scholars, in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights 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 Belarus is a party. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against such conduct, so long as it is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, politically motivated dismissals aimed at restricting or retaliating against such activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.
Correction (December 2, 2021): An earlier version of this report referred to Aliaksandr Aheeu as “Alexander Ageev,” Ihar Sharukho as “Igor Sharukho,” and Vital Yaumenkou as “Vitaly Evmenkov,” the incorrect transliterations of their Belarusian names.