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Russia: Rules for Academic Meetings Undermine Freedom and Scholarship
In response to the decision of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science obliging academics to seek approval from the ministry before meeting with foreigners, and to report to the government on such meetings, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“These requirements undermine the freedom necessary for academic institutions to function, and for academics to freely pursue lines of scholarship. This will have a chilling effect on Russia’s ability to participate in the academic world, and will further isolate the country,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “The danger of this move, which harkens back to Soviet-era restrictions, is that it promotes a culture of skepticism toward foreign ideas.”
On July 13, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science issued new rules obliging Russian academics working at institutions under the ministry to seek approval for any meetings with foreigners. The rules call for Russian institutions to notify the ministry five days in advance of such meetings, a minimum of two Russian academics to be present during meetings, and Russian participants to file a written report that includes passport scans of their foreign interlocutors. Moreover, non-Russian citizens will not be allowed to use any note-taking or recording equipment during such meetings without prior authorization from the Russian Federation.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.