Dear colleagues. By now many of you will have heard about the situation at the European University in St Petersburg (EUSPb). The university has been suddenly closed by the Russian authorities due to a reputed “violation of fire codes”. The classes have been suspended indefinitely and the rooms have been sealed by fire marshals. The University faculty and students, whom many of you know as colleagues and friends, have appealed to us, the international academic community, to write collective letters to support the university and to urge the authorities to reopen it. There have been many speculations as to the real reasons for the closure of this university, known for its high level of scholarship and independent social and political analysis. You can read about these various theories and explanations on the web sites provided above. However, colleagues at EUSPb have asked us “not to politicize” the situation, in order to avoid creating more problems.
Right now time is an issue — this is the middle of the semester at EUSPB, as elsewhere — and we must act quickly.
We have written a petition, and invite all of you who agree with its content to sign it. The text of the petition is provided below. We plan to collect as many signatures as we can in a speedy fashion and send this petition to administrative and educational institutions in Russia.
Alexei Yurchak, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
Michele Rivkin-Fish, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina,