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: March 09, 2022

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):St. Petersburg State University

Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 9, 2022, it was reported that Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs ordered St. Petersburg State University (SPbGU) to expel 13 students who participated in anti-war protests following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On March 2, SPbGu’s vice-rector Alexander Babich noted on the university’s website that if the state notified the university about a student found guilty of violating the law, including that which criminalizes mass demonstrations without state-issued permits, the student would be punished up to, and including, expulsion.

As of March 16, there are no reports confirming whether the students have officially been expelled.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about state orders to expel students in retaliation for their 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 Russia is a party. State and university authorities should refrain from disciplinary actions intended to retaliate against nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, expulsions aimed at restricting or retaliating against such activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On March 27, 2022, Kommersant reported that SPbGU requested explanations from an additional 22 students regarding their participation in the protests. It is unclear whether those students were expelled.