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Academic freedom in the former Soviet Union

This page is primarily devoted to documenting the ongoing assault on independent social science research centers in Russia. Several such institutions–the Levada Center polling agency being the best-known among them–have come under attack as part of the recent wave of repressive measures against Russian NGOs, a growing number of which are being accused of acting as “foreign agents.” Scroll down to learn about attacks on academic freedom in other post-Soviet countries, and for links to websites about Russian cases from previous years. Also consult my blog for updates.



  1. Osteuropa‘s campaign web site in support of the Levada Center (in English, Russian, German, French, Italian, and Czech). Contains translations of a statement by Lev Gudkov, the Center’s director, and of the prosecutorial “warning,” as well as links to different language versions of the international petition.
  2. To access the petition directly, click here to sign the English, Russian, German, French, or Czech version.
  3. Facebook group “Support Levada Center and other Russian NGOs and research institutions”

In English

  1. Periodically Updated List of Nongovernmental Organizations Victimized under the “Foreign Agents” Law (Human Rights Watch)
  2. A New York Times article on the case of the Levada Center.
  3. Kevin Rothrock’s summary of Russian online debates about the situation
  4. Olga Zeveleva about the attack on the Levada Center and why you should care

In Russian

  1. Periodically Updated List of Nongovernmental Organizations Victimized under the “Foreign Agents” Law (
  2. Social scientists’ petition in support of the Levada Center and other social science NGOs, initiated by Alexander Chepurenko, dean of sociology at the Higher School of Economics. Sign it here.
  3. The News section on the Levada Center’s website, with updates on the situation and statements of support.
  4. Boris Dubin, Lev Gudkov, and Alexei Levinson in a TV Rain news item by Ekaterina Aliabieva and anchored by Leonid Parfenov (May 27, 2013)
  5. Comments by Vladimir Yadov on the threats to Russian sociology (May 27, 2013)
  6. Open letter by Saint Petersburg sociologists in support of research NGOs (May 27, 2013)
  7. Lev Gudkov in a TV Rain interview with Mikhail Fishman (May 25, 2013)
  8. Lev Gudkov interviewed by (May 24, 2013)
  9. Declaration of support by the OIROM, the Russian Association for Market and Opinion Research. (May 23, 2013)
  10. Podcast of a radio interview with sociologists Maria Matskevich, Viktor Voronkov, and Alexandra Dmitrieva, about the attack on the Levada Center and what it means for the future of sociological research in Russia (May 23, 2013). Here it is in embedded format:
  11. Novaya Gazeta article about the attack on the Levada Center (May 22, 2013)
  12. Statement of support by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. (May 22, 2013)
  13. Lev Gudkov interviewed by Novaya Gazeta (May 21, 2013)
  14. Vladimir Magun about the attack on the Levada Center (May 20, 2013)
  15. Lev Gudkov interviewed by Kommersant FM (May 20, 2013)

In German

  1. Michael Ludwig, Die Erforschung der Idiotie, FAZ, 27.5.2013
  2. Frank Nienhuysen, Warnung an die Forscher, SZ, 25.5.2013


* – * – *

*** New links (in Georgian only):
Facebook page Students for Academic Freedom, Tbilisi/Georgia, and their public discussion page. (Thanks to Maya Razmadze for the links.) ***


Unfortunately, academic freedom in Russia and a number of neighboring countries is under threat from repressive state initiatives and, in a number of cases, corrupt academic administrators. This includes post-Soviet countries such as the EU member state of Latvia, where the secret services have lobbied to be granted a veto right on any academic research on national security grounds.

This page will feature links to sites that document such attacks. In the meantime, I am re-posting a number of links that I collected while working on my 2008 blog, “Save the European University at Saint Petersburg” (the blog also features a large collection of links to pages directly related to the attack on that university).

For global context, please consult the International Sociological Association’s blog “Universities in Crisis“.