Activism as a reason for dismissal: educators from Northern (Arctic) Federal University are asked to leave their working places “voluntarily”

Two professors of Northern Federal University (NFU), Oleg Kluenkov and Tatiana Vinnichenko, who worked there for many years, are under pressure because of their LGBT activism.

Oleg Kluenkov has been working at NFU more than 8 years and recently was asked to leave his working place “voluntarily”. The story starts in February 2014, when homophobic website published a text where Kluenkov was accused of “absence at his working place”. The reason of the absence was his journey to the United States during the time when he had no classes.

In the end of March, the administration of NFU got a request from the prosecutor’s office of Arkhangelsk about Kluenkov’s activity, and a bit later – another one  devoted to all his teaching aids. The assistant of the prosecutor of Archangelsk, Piyankova N. and Federal Security Service Directorate’s officer, Nikolay Matasov, were actively involved in the process. As a result, Kluenkov was reprimanded for “being absent in his working place”. Afterwards he was asked to leave his job “voluntarily”. However, educator refused to “obey” and he is willing to defend his rights in the court.

On May 21, Piyankova and Matasov visited NFU once again and checked Kluenkov’s teaching aids. However, the reasons of the examination were not revealed to Kluenkov or his employer. Prosecutor’s office and Federal Security Service Directorate place pressure on Kluenkov employer. It is important to mention that Prosecutors office does not have the power to check the activity of individuals and therefore it acts unlawfully and uses political pressure to make the administration of NFU to dismiss Kluenkov.

Another NFU’s educator, Tatiana Vinnichenko, also experienced a conversation about her activism. Topchiy A.A. and Chicherina N.V., both members of the university’s staff, explained to her in a private talk that in order to stay at the University she have to leave civil activism. Moreover, somehow she should “guarantee” that LGBT-organization “Rakurs” (Vinnichenko is the head of this organization) will not accept any educator from NFU.

It is important to note that by now all the teachers who left their working places because of their activism did it “voluntarily”. For example one can recall the recent story of Alexander Ermoshkin, who decided to leave the school because the pressure from the administration. Many teachers who openly support LGBT movement experience such a pressure. However, Kluenkov refused to leave “voluntarily” and willing to defend his rights in the court. According to the activists, they will defend their rights within the legal framework and will try to resists the unlawfulness, which is ruling currently at NFU.