Russian university refuses to inform on students

2nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian prosecutors were forced to back down after the dean of Saint Petersburg university refused their request that he inform on politically active students, his office said Wednesday

The renowned university, the alma-mater of both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, received letters from two prosecutor offices in February, said a spokeswoman for Dean Nikolai Kropachev.

The letters asked for information on students that are "members of extremist organizations or participate in unauthorised protests," spokeswoman Marina Maksimova told AFP.

Some university officials launched a questionnaire for students asking about their participation in "informal youth groups of extremist nature" and unauthorized protests, sparking fury among students.

But dean Nikolai Kropachev's spokeswoman said the questionnaire had been "done in error by people who did not realize that gathering such information is illegal."

The dean himself "replied to the prosecutor's office in Vasileostrovsky district that the information requested is not in the university's competence," she said.

The prosecutor's office on Wednesday sent another letter saying it was cancelling its original request, she added.

Students as well as state workers in Russia are frequently pressured by their authorities, especially in time of elections, and can be threatened with dismissal if they engage in oppositional activities.

© 2011 AFP

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