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 27, 2022

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Higher School of Economics

Region & Country:Europe | Russia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 27, 2022, the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow fired Ilya Inishev, an associate professor at the HSE School of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, for posts that he made on Facebook.

Inishev’s firing came after the chairman of the University Ethics Commission sent HSE’s vice-rector screenshots of a Facebook post by Inishev. According to Inishev, in the post, he quoted a common phrase about a Russian warship. In justifying Ineshev’s firing, the Ethics Commission stated that he had violated a protocol on the use of “obscene language,” specified in section of the university’s code of ethics on “public use of profanity,” and that the post had “discredit[ed]” the Russian armed forces. The Commission further called Inishev’s actions “an immoral act” that “caused serious damage to the reputation of the University.” The Commission’s vote to fire Inishev was unanimous.

Inishev is known as an opponent of the war in Ukraine. In February 2022, just after Russia invaded Ukraine, Inishev joined other scientists and scientific journalists in signing an open letter denouncing the war.

Inishev had been a professor at HSE since 2010, and chaired a master’s program in Cultural studies. He had no previous infractions on his record. Inishev is the second professor from HSE fired this month for “immoral acts” (see report).

Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university dismissing a scholar for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Higher education institutions should respect and safeguard academic freedom and institutional autonomy, including by refraining from appointments or disciplinary actions based on political or ideological considerations. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, these actions undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.