The Story of Scientists Leaving Russia Again

Yulia Balakhonova

March 27, 2023

After launching the attack on Ukraine, the Russian leadership decided to attack a variety of spheres within its own country as well. In addition to independent journalists and human rights activists, who have been practically eradicated, science has also been targeted. In the spirit of the Soviet tradition, scientists are getting fired, their books are getting confiscated, and money is only provided to those who are loyal to the regime.

The Fugitives

Three years ago, prominent astrophysicist and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yury Kovalev along with other Russian specialists made a breakthrough in the study of black holes . The scientist was then full of optimism and talked to the media a lot about other discoveries that may be made. As it turns out now, should these discoveries be actually made, it would be in another country.

Yury Kovalev

After the war began, Kovalev, like many other scientists, signed a letter condemning the Russian aggression and left for Germany in the fall . He is now engaged in helping other scientists: some need to relocate, while others need to overcome certain difficulties in their new place of residence .

What did the open letter signed by 8489 scientists say about the war?

“This fatal step leads to enormous loss of life and undermines the foundations of the established system of international security. The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia.

There is no reasonable justification for this war. Attempts to use the situation in Donbas as a pretext for launching a military operation are not credible. It is clear that Ukraine does not pose a threat to the security of our country. The war against it is unjust and outright pointless.”.

Many scientists need such assistance. “After February 24, we were so stressed and shocked that we could not eat anything, we were terrified, we panicked, we bought a ticket to Istanbul and just ran away,” recalls Alexander Markov, professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences and head of the Department of Biological Evolution at Moscow State University. He left for Turkey with his wife, Elena Naimark, a leading researcher at the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, but the couple briefly returned a month and a half later. “There was a feeling that this horror had to end soon, because it just couldn’t go any further,” he says. “The horror” did not end though, and since December Markov, one of Russia’s most prominent biologists and science popularizers, has been living in Israel. Academician Viktor Vasilyev, president of the Moscow Mathematical Society, has now also settled there.

In total, The Project has identified 28 prominent scientists and professors from leading universities who left Russia after the beginning of the war. Among them are specialists of international renown and laureates of numerous scientific prizes.

Scientists who have left Russia

However, the total number of scientists who have left Russia is much larger. Scholars at Risk alone, an organization dedicated to helping scientists from around the world, has moved 200 people out of Russia . Another 62 scientists were assisted in leaving Russia by the German Alexander Humboldt Foundation . Over six thousand people are now members of Telegram chats for scientists in need of relocation .

Where have the Shaninka employees gone from Russia?

The scientists who left Russia have already begun to create new educational organizations abroad: for instance, in Montenegro, former employees of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (also known as Shaninka) have created the Liberal Arts & Science educational program. The management is already recruiting students for short courses and expects to turn the program into a full-fledged university . According to Ksenia Luchenko, program director and former dean of the Media Communications Department at Shaninka, they have already received more than 30 applications from Russian educators. “To be honest, we have fewer vacancies than applicants so far,” Ksenia says.

“Entire scientific branches have come to a halt; no research is being conducted. We were set back by years,” laments astrophysicist and professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Popov. His biography is similar to that of many notable scientists. In 2016, he received the state prize “For Fidelity to Science,” in February 2022 he signed an open letter against the war, and a few months later he left Russia.

There were no attempts to persuade Popov or any of his other colleagues to stay. On the contrary — scientific and educational organizations themselves were expelling high-class specialists. And in line with the traditions of the 1930s USSR, there were denunciations and spy hysteria.

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The Dismissed and the Traitors

The Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) is not an ordinary university; it calls itself the “presidential academy,” which runs an important project for the Kremlin: the so-called “school of governors” . It includes some rather extravagant activities, such as asking students to lie under a moving tank to test their stress tolerance. 41 graduates of this “school of governors” have become heads of Russian regions, said Alexei Komissarov, then director of RANEPA Higher School of Public Administration, in 2021). After the start of the war, this academy dealt with the disgruntled without much ceremony.

RANEPA building in Moscow

“All the components of the myths about May 9 and the Great Victory have been definitively nullified by reality,” Denis Grekov, lecturer in the course “Critical Thinking” at RANEPA, wrote in his Facebook on May 8 last year. Shortly thereafter, professor Natalia Tanshina of the same institution complained publicly about his critical reflections, and Grekov was immediately summoned to the dean’s office and offered to resign. Another lecturer, Tatiana Kamoza, who also condemned the war in her social networks, was dealt with differently. After a student denounced her, two observers from the dean’s office were assigned to her lectures, to make sure she did not say too much . Moreover, one of the university administrators met with student group supervisors and urged them to denounce lecturers who said anything “unpatriotic” in class . Grekov now lives in Poland.

The former deputy director of the department of science at the Russian Military Historical Society (! — the RMHS is headed by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky — **) and associate professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Konstantin Pakhalyuk was denounced twice: over a Facebook dispute on whether Ukraine can be called a fascist state, and over an interview with TV Rain. However, the accusations that actually forced him to resign from the RHMS were more ridiculous than those.

In mid-March, the scientist, who made no secret of his anti-war stance, received a phone call from the presidential administration, inviting him to Staryaya Square . The Administration did not reply to The Project’s inquiry.) There, one of the officials told him, “We have received information that there are Mossad agents in your contacts. Pahalyuk adds that he had never dealt with representatives of the Israeli secret services. In addition, the interlocutor reminded him of his opposition to the currently implemented concept of genocide of the Soviet people , which ‘contradicts state policy’. The official then asked Pakhalyuk to write a letter of resignation.

The lecturers at the once-liberal Higher School of Economics also come under pressure — after the war began, university officials began to phone them up, asking if they had left for abroad . As a result, dozens of employees have been fired or made independent contractors. According to the estimates of former professor Konstantin Sonin, the university has lost at least 150 lecturers since the war began. For example, the Poletaev Institute for Humanitarian Historical and Theoretical Studies has lost 60 percent of its staff , and the Institute itself lost its status as an international laboratory at the beginning of 2023 .

One of those fired was Professor Oleg Lekmanov, a specialist in 20th-century Russian poetry. He left Russia shortly after he attended an anti-war rally in Moscow, and was not allowed to continue working at the Higher School of Economics. The university was in such a hurry to fire him that his personal page was removed from its website while he was still reading his lecture course remotely.

Assistant professor Dinara Gagarina made the following post on her Facebook in September:

A screenshot from Gagarina’s Facebook page: “Fuck war. From February 24 to September 18, the UN recorded 5,916 dead and 8,616 injured civilians in Ukraine. And everything is not enough?”

After that, she was consecutively fired from three positions: in the summer Dinara was supposed to become head of the Center for Digital Humanities Research at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, but she was dismissed right on the day of the center’s opening. In October, she was fired from her position as the head of a master’s program at the Perm branch of the Higher School of Economics and, at the end of the year, she was also fired from her post as the head of the Historical Research Department at the same university.

The staff of the Journalism Department of Moscow State University was also laid off: lecturers with oppositional views were simply stripped of their teaching loads while maintaining their minimal pay and removed from the teaching schedule . In total, The Project has established the names of 20 professors at leading universities who spoke out against the war and were subsequently fired.

Which educators were left out of work after the war began?

Universities frequently not only lay off staff, but also shut down entire divisions and university programs.

What programs were shut down in universities in 2022

Political Journalism module at the Faculty of Journalism at MSU, which had existed at the faculty since 2013. It was merged with the Social Journalism module.

Liberal Arts program at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. The faculty offered students the opportunity to combine two study profiles — for example, political science and history.

Human Rights and Democratic Governance specialization within the Master’s program “Political Analysis and Public Policy” at the Higher School of Economics. Students of this program interned at foreign universities and worked at international government agencies and human rights organizations.

Sociologist Anna Kuleshova and anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova say they have encountered cases in which editors of scientific journals would remove the names of scientists who had left Russia from scientific articles . “The same practice existed in the 1980s USSR — and now it’s being repeated,” says Kuleshova.

This is true, censorship has indeed returned to Russian science in full force.

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The Forbidden Topics

In the 1980s, Soviet scholar Igor Kon wrote a new textbook for the Soviet public of the time, titled Introduction to Sexology. But at the end of last year, they stopped issuing this textbook to visitors of some of Moscow’s libraries. The reason was the authorities’ crusade against the LGBT community.

The new law on LGBT propaganda

Signed by Vladimir Putin at the end of last year, the law on the complete ban on propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations, sex reassignment and pedophilia introduces heavy fines for such “violations”. LGBT “propaganda” can result in fines of up to 400,000 rubles for individuals and up to 5 million for companies. Websites on which such “propaganda” is found are to be blocked by Roskomnadzor.

After the adoption of a new law on the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships,” librarians receive lists containing dozens of books that were to be confiscated as illegal. . Among others there was Kon’s work, as well as books by many other famous authors, including Haruki Murakami.

List of books to be seized. Source: Telegram channel “Knigizhar

List of books to be seized. Source: Telegram channel “Knigizhar

The fear of the new law is so great that the philosophical-literary journal Logos first prepared and then removed from its website an entire issue devoted to feminist studies, which could also allegedly fall under the new law . The Sociology of Power journal did much the same, taking the last issue off its website in order to have every article checked by lawyers for any “blasphemy” . This issue has now been returned to the site . “In total, about two dozen articles have been withdrawn from publication in various journals. I can’t even imagine how many articles about LGBT issues will never be written,” Kuleshova laments.

The contents of the “Logos” magazine

The Higher School of Economics is also getting rid of “banned” books and publications. As The Project discovered, the university’s Directorate of Legal Affairs compiled and sent out a memo to various departments on how to deal with “forbidden” information. Its essence was that it was best to remove practically any content related to LGBT issues. They even give a specific example — the book Summer in a Pioneer Tie, a bestseller from the first half of 2022 needs to be withdrawn.

What should we do if a book mentions same-sex relationships, but we’re not sure if it’s propaganda?

There are books with a clear propaganda focus that are widely discussed by the public (e.g., Summer in a Pioneer Tie). Such books should be withdrawn.

In case of doubt, the book can be left in the 18+ section.

Recommendations for the university library

Moreover, the authors of the memo are so reassured that they even include BDSM and swingers among the forbidden non-traditional relationships, noting, however, that “as a rule, such practices are not propagated”.

Are non-traditional sexual relationships restricted to LGBT?

Broadly speaking, the term can also encompass other taboo practices and relationships (e.g., BDSM, swingers, etc.). However, as a rule, such practices are not propagated.

An excerpt from the sent “memo”

The authors of the “memo” had no remorse for “foreign agents” either. They pointed out that “any information materials by foreign agents, if there were any on the portal, must be removed” . The Project could not establish whether the university implemented all the orders — the press service of the Higher School of Economics did not respond to the inquiry.

Just as in any time of persecution, researchers from all social-humanitarian spheres are suffering in 2023 Russia. Last year, a student at one of the regional divisions of the Higher School of Economics was preparing a diploma on Hannah Arendt, the founder of the theory of totalitarianism. The topic was deemed inappropriate and he was told to change it, with a recommendation that he “write about the pernicious influence of social networks,” says one of the professors, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The most problematic topics, however, were Ukraine and the Great Patriotic War. Dozens of scholars have been banned from doing research that is in some way related to Ukraine, says anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova . Pakhalyuk says that the central archive of the Defense Ministry does not provide documents about the failures of the battles near Moscow or the interaction of the Soviet army with the people of Europe. Another St. Petersburg historian was unable to obtain documents about the partisan movement from the archives .

What is allowed now?

New topics have already begun to appear in the curricula — for example, the following has been added to the general history curriculum for non-specialized majors:

— Refusal of the USA, NATO and the EU to discuss threats to Russia’s national security,

Armed provocations in the Donbass,

Armed provocations and preparations by the Ukrainian regime to seize the Donbass republics by force,

Official recognition of the LPR and the DPR by Russia,

Launch of the special military operation in Ukraine,

Sanctions pressure from Western countries on Russia and attempts to isolate it from the rest of the world,

Objectives of the special military operation,

Accession of Donetsk People’s Republic, Luhansk People’s Republic, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and Kherson Oblast to Russia

The concept was adopted in February 2023.

In fact, scientists with “wrong” views are now not allowed to publish anything at all, even if they write on permitted topics. The poetry of Joseph Brodsky has not yet been put on the list of banned topics, but the once liberal publisher Novyi Mir refused to publish an article about the poet by Oleg Lekmanov, a former professor at the Higher School of Economics . Before the war, his articles appeared in the magazine many times .

Censorship of topics that are sensitive to the authorities is not the only problem of scientists remaining in Russia. If they want to receive money from the government, they need to fit into the general line.

Only Patriots Get the Money

“Here (on the site of the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repressions near Yekaterinburg) more than 21,000 residents of the region were shot in 1937-1938. While more than 21,000 names are inscribed on the pylons, nothing is known about the vast majority of these people”. So begins the application from the Volunteer Society of the Sverdlovsk Region, which tried to obtain funds from the Presidential Grants Fund to collect stories of Yekaterinburg residents who suffered from Stalinist repressions. The government did not respond to this request, however. Instead, the two key foundations to which researchers apply for funds  — the Russian Science Foundation and the same Presidential Grant Fund — gave millions of rubles to those who promised to teach children patriotism and train fighters to replenish the ranks of the armed forces.

“If the team does not work in the field of ‘patriotism, ‘ there is essentially no chance of receiving funding from state funds,” says a university professor who works with grant applications. Other people interviewed by The Project agree with her: grant applicants are advised to mention “patriotism” or “patriotic education,” even if their application has nothing to do with this topic. This leads to ridiculous stories. Russian Manor, an organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage sites, wanted to restore the manor park of Maria Gartung, Alexander Pushkin’s eldest daughter, in the village of Fedyashevo in the Tula Oblast. However, the great poet’s daughter was mentioned only once in the grant application. Instead, they placed an emphasis on the “pressing issue”: the fate of the estate during World War II. To be safe, they also listed “patriotic education” among project goals. And they were right: 3.5 million rubles will now be allocated for the restoration.

“Goals: To preserve and restore the object of cultural and natural heritage — the old park of the Fedyashevo estate — by recreating its historical landscape. Patriotic education of the younger generation”.

The Project was able to verify that using patriotic rhetoric substantially increases the chances of receiving money by analyzing the list of winners of grants from the Presidential Grants Fund in the categories in which scientific and educational organizations usually submit their applications. For example, last year, 13% of the winners in the “Support for Projects in Science, Education, and Outreach” category included “patriotism” or “patriotic education” in their applications. In another field, “Preservation of Historical Memory” , 71% of the winners emphasized “patriotism”. In total, the state allocated 781 million rubles for “patriotic” projects in these two categories.

Some organizations tried particularly hard: The Project found a grant in which the word “patriotism” is mentioned 52 times. The “Federation of Gliding Sport of Russia” which became one of the winners in the category “Support of projects in the field of science, education, education” , drew attention to “love for the Motherland” in their application in the following manner:

Our project is led by aviators and experts with extensive experience working with teenagers — the twin brothers Alexander and Evgeny Martenyuk. We inculcate PATRIOTISM, LOVE for the MOTHERLAND and for RUSSIA! EVERY WEEK our students are taught by Heroes of Russia, honored pilots and test pilots of Russia, cosmonauts, aircraft designers, aircraft engineers, air traffic controllers, meteorologists and ground specialists. Thus, through the love of aviation, patriotism, love for the Motherland and Love for Russia will be transmitted.

Those who asked for money for military training and education also received funding. Such topics as firearms and tactical training of schoolchildren and students, as well as “formation of an attractive image of military service” were mentioned one way or another in the applications of 34 winners (they received a total of 44 million rubles) .

What did the Presidential Fund award grants for?

Examples of how winners of grant applications related to military-patriotic education explain the social significance of their projects

— “The name of our project (‘Patriotism Mobilization’) was not chosen accidentally, as it is related to one of the reasons for the problem of evading partial mobilization in Russia caused by the special military operation — the low levels of patriotism.

— “The introduction of systematic military-patriotic activities into the agenda of activities of pre-conscription age teenagers will contribute to a stable replenishment of the Russian Armed Forces with healthy, physically developed and motivated soldiers trained in modern technology.”

— “Today, when the aggressive policy of the collective West against Russia, powered by the neo-Nazi ideology of the Kyiv regime, has escalated into an armed conflict, the lack of understanding by a significant portion of young people of the causes of the situation has exposed the extreme severity of the serious shortcomings in patriotic education in post-Soviet Russia. Numerous videos on the Web about the frenzied departure from the country of men subject to reserve conscription, following the President’s announcement of partial military mobilization, are a clear and convincing evidence of this.”

— “We believe there is currently a societal demand for young people who are physically strong, who love their homeland, and who are ready to serve their country in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”

None of the applicants explain how pre-conscription training, teaching young people how to use rifles, and raising the prestige of military service are related to science and “preservation of historical memory”.

Another grantmaker, the Russian Science Foundation, started awarding money for projects that outright support Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The four winners of the 2023 competition in the category “Humanities and Social Sciences” received at least 16 million rubles for projects in which the applicants, for example, prepare a “transit of power in post-Ukraine” or promise a “new legal system” for the DPR and the LPR.

Researchers started receiving money from the Russian Science Foundation for topics related to the war in Ukraine

Peculiarities of the perception of state transit in the regions of post-Ukraine. “The expected final results of the study are: an effective method of assessing social tension and protest potential associated with the situation of statehood transit in the post-Ukrainian territories; establishment of patterns occurring in the political-geographical spaces of state transit, which in this case is understood as the change of statehood of the territory”

Factors of Crimea and Sevastopol in Russian-Turkish relations: the influence of external and internal actors on the conflictogenicity of the Black Sea region against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine. “After the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the West and its allies, including or excluding Turkey depending on national interests, implement a logic that would lead to a historical analogy of the Crimean War of 1853-56… The closure of the Black Sea straits by Ankara during the special military operation shows the subjectivity and role of the Turkish state in the regional conflict… As before, the problem of the Black Sea straits is becoming more and more relevant for both the West and Russia.”

The legal systems of the recognized Donbass republics: problems of transition and ways to achieve self-sufficiency. “The legal system of the DPR and LPR generally meets the challenges of the present, which are typical for the transitional period in the development of the legal system. However, as the political situation stabilizes, significant rulemaking work will be required for the long term”

Competing memories of Prince Sviatoslav and the dynamics of nationalism in Russia and Ukraine. “In the current situation it is obvious that several concepts of national identity, models of citizenship, and approaches to the past will be implemented in Ukraine and among the Ukrainian diaspora in the Russian Federation and other countries. These interpretative frameworks will be formed around their own pantheons of national heroes, one prominent place among which is traditionally occupied by Prince Sviatoslav.”

* * *

In the spring, Vladimir Putin’s alma mater, St. Petersburg State University, hosted the “Slovo-2022” international contest of scholarly and journalistic works. Students Anastasia Polosina and Varvara Rudich became winners in the “Research Paper” category with their report “Z and V: From Semantic Ambiguity to Variation of Meanings,” and they decided to enhance their presentation by wearing traditional Russian clothes and headdresses . In the category “Publicistic Essay” the winners were the reports “Russian World. These words have so much in them…” and “Those who left the country in the period of the special military operation”. Full loyalty is now required not only from current scholars, but also from future ones.

Editing by Mikhail Rubin

Fact checking by Katya Arenina


Victor Vasiliev

Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, president of the Moscow Mathematical Society, professor at the Higher School of Economics, winner of Russian government prize in the field of education. He discovered a finite-type invariant named after him, the Vasiliev Invariant.

Alexander Markov

Biologist, Head of the Department of Biological Evolution at the Faculty of Biology of Moscow State University, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Recipient of the Enlightenment Award (2011) and the Ministry of Education and Science’s Loyalty to Science Award (2014); Naked Science magazine included him in its top 10 list of Russia’s most famous scientists.

Yuri Kovalev

Astrophysicist, professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Recipient of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Bredikhin Prize for Astronomy (2010). In 2015, he was awarded the Medal of the Order «For Merit to the Fatherland» II degree.

Andrei Desnitsky

Philologist, biblical scholar, professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, leading researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (until 2022). He translated several parts of the Bible into Russian.

Sergey Popov

Astrophysicist, professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Recipient of State Prize «For Fidelity to Science». His book «Superobjects: Stars the Size of a City» won the Belyaev Prize.

Alexey Sosinsky

Mathematician, science popularizer, professor at the Independent University of Moscow

Oleg Lekmanov

Literary scholar, professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (until summer 2022). Recipient of the Shuvalov Prize (awarded by the Lomonosov Moscow State University), the New World Magazine Prize, and the national literary prize «Big Book» (2019).

Andrei Zubov

Historian, religious scholar, professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (until 2014 — he was fired after he spoke out against the annexation of Crimea). One of the authors of the «Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church». Supervised the publication of the book «History of Russia. The 20th Century».

Konstantin Morozov

Historian, professor of the History Department of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (Shaninka). Deputy Chairman of the Scientific-Historical Division of International Memorial.

Vladimir Gimpelson

Economist, professor, leading researcher at the Labor Research Center of the Higher School of Economics, recipient of the Yegor Gaidar Prize (2012)

Egor Bazykin

An evolutionary biologist, professor at Skoltech, and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution at the Institute of Information Transmission Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He studies the evolution of the COVID-19 virus, including cases of «perpetual» coronavirus disease.

Ekaterina Shulman

Political scientist, assistant professor at the Department of Political and Legal Studies of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (Shaninka), assistant professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. She has not taught in Russia since April 2022.

Olga Filatova

Senior Researcher in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Biophysics Department of Moscow State University (until 2022), cetacean specialist. Winner of the 2015 Shuvalov Prize and the 2022 Enlightener Award for her book Cloudy With a Chance of Orcas.

Boris Feigin

Mathematician, head of the International Laboratory of Representation Theory and Mathematical Physics at the Higher School of Economics — Skoltech.

Anton Khoroshkin

Mathematician, senior researcher at the International Laboratory of Representation Theory and Mathematical Physics at the Higher School of Economics — Skoltech (until October 2022)

Anna Klyatis

Philologist, head of the Department of Literary and Artistic Criticism at the Journalism Department of Lomonosov Moscow State University (until 2022).

Anna Kuleshova

Sociologist, chair of the Association of Scholarly Editors and Publishers Council on the Ethics of Scientific Publications (2016 — 2021).

Ilya Kukulin

Literary scholar, associate professor at the School of Cultural Studies of the Higher School of Economics (until spring 2022). Recipient of the Andrei Bely Prize and the Poetry Prize.

Maria Mayofis

Philologist, associate professor in the School of Cultural Studies of the Humanities Faculty of the Higher School of Economics (until Spring 2022).

Dmitry Dubrovsky

Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics (until spring 2022), Director of the Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University (until 2015), researcher at the Center for Independent Sociological Research.

Konstantin Pakhalyuk

Associate Professor of Comparative Political Science at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, curator of research and educational projects of the Russian Military Historical Society (until spring 2022), member of the Russian Association of World War I Historians

Alexandra Arkhipova/h2>
An anthropologist, co-author of «Dangerous Soviet Things» and «Jokes about Stalin. Texts, Commentary, and Research».

Alexei Pleshkov

Head of the A.V. Poletaev Institute for Humanitarian Historical and Theoretical Studies of the Higher School of Economics (until spring 2022).

Mikhail Edelstein

Literary scholar and literary critic. Senior Research Associate at the Journalism Department of Moscow State University (until fall 2022).

Alena Vandysheva

Senior Lecturer at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg (until spring 2022).

Denis Grekov

Philosopher, political scientist, lecturer in the «Critical Thinking» course at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (until spring 2022).

Arseny Kumankov

Associate Professor at the School of Philosophy of the Humanities Faculty of Higher School of Economics (until March 2023).

Dinara Gagarina

Head of the master’s program «Digital Methods in the Humanities» and associate professor at the Higher School of Economics (until late 2022). Co-founder of the popular science portal Edurobots.


Maria Rachmaninova

A professor in the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, resigned from St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions after she learned that a student had denounced her because of her anti-war remarks during a lecture.

Alexei Pleshkov

Director of the Institute for Humanitarian Historical and Theoretical Studies at the Higher School of Economics, was fired shortly after the war for including in his grant a faculty member who had a history of conflict with the university administration.

Alena Vandysheva

Senior lecturer at the Higher School of Economics, left Russia for Georgia in March 2022. The university refused to sign a new contract with her shortly afterwards.

Danila Raskov

An economist and acting dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St. Petersburg State University, was removed from his position in April 2022 because of the faculty’s collaboration with the Bard College, which was declared an undesirable organization in Russia in 2021.

Dmitry Dubrovsky

A sociologist and associate professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, was fired from the university in April 2022. Dubrovsky wanted to go to the UK for an internship and to teach remotely, but his request was denied. Dubrovsky believes that his internship plans were just a pretext and that he was actually dismissed because of his political position. A week after his dismissal, the Ministry of Justice recognized the lecturer as a foreign agent.

Evgeny Bely

A professor and head of the Institute of Economics and Business at Ulyanovsk State University, was fired for running the «Science and Universities» Telegram channel.

Tatyana Novikova

A professor at Belgorod State National Research University, was fired in June 2022 because of her VKontakte comment with the words «May there always be sunshine! May there always be blue sky!», a Labour Day slogan, and anti-war phrases.

Tatyana Tairova-Yakovleva

Professor in the Department of History of the Peoples of the CIS Countries at the Institute of History of St. Petersburg State University, and director of the Center for Ukrainian History Studies, was fired from the university in June 2022. Tairova publicly opposed the war, and posted an anti-war message in Ukrainian on YouTube in March.

Konstantin Sonin

Professor and academic head of the Department of Economic Sciences at the Higher School of Economics, was fired in July 2022. Sonin openly opposes the war.

Natalia Pivovarova

Dean of the Faculty of Theater Studies at Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), was fired from the university in August 2022 after 40 years of work. She was offered to write a letter of resignation, and after she refused, the contract was simply not renewed. She has repeatedly spoken out against the war.

Margarita Kuleva

A lecturer at the Sociology Department of the St. Petersburg branch of the Higher School of Economics, was fired in September 2022 without any explanation. She had spoken out against the war on social networks.

Denis Skopin

Assistant professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St. Petersburg State University, was dismissed in October 2022 for participating in a protest rally against mobilization.

Iskander Yasaveyev

Yasaveyev was dismissed from the position of Senior Researcher at the Center for Youth Studies of the Higher School of Economics after being declared a «foreign agent».

Nikolai Svanidze

A journalist and recipient of the Order of Honor for his contribution to Russian television and radio broadcasting, was dismissed as director of the Mass Media Institute of the Russian State University for the Humanities in December 2022. Svanidze openly opposes the war.

Dinara Gagarina

Associate professor at the Perm branch of the Higher School of Economics, was dismissed as head of the master’s program in digital methods in the humanities in October 2022. She was also dismissed as head of the historical research department at the end of the year. Dinara published anti-war posts on her social networks.

Ilya Inishev

Associate Professor at the School of Philosophy and Cultural Studies of the Higher School of Economics, was dismissed in December 2022 after a denunciation by a student. The formal reason for Inishev’s dismissal was his «immoral behavior».

Yulia Galyamina

She was dismissed from her position as associate professor at the Department of Theory and Practice of Media Communications at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in December 2022 because of her «foreign agent» status.

Elena Kabakova

A lecturer in the Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Mathematics and Information Security at Pyatigorsk State University, was fined 30 thousand rubles for a conversation with her students in which she condemned the stepfather of one of them who had gone to war, and fired from the university in March 2023.

Konstantin Miroshnikov and Vladimir Sukhoi

Lecturers in the Journalism Department at Moscow International University, were fired after an anonymous complaint from a student in March 2023.