Petitioning Administration of Oxford University Chris Patten

Oxford University and other entities: review cooperation with Putin's oligarchs

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We urge you to stop selling reputational prestige to Putin's close associates from the Alfa Access Renova (AAR) consortium. Oligarchs from this consortium have a highly questionable and disreputable business track record around the world (not just in post-soviet countries but also in the West) noted by government agencies and courts in the UK, US and elsewhere but ignored by Oxford due diligence in 2008-2010 and after that.

AAR oligarchs and their direct subordinates have engaged in multiple corporate raiding and violent anti-western propaganda campaigns and other unethical actions against at least 150 western and Russian citizens in 2008-2009. These also included prosecution of a family of an entrepreneur acclaimed by the US government and two Oxford alumni by security services of oligarchs with the help of Russian law enforcement officials who are now on the US Congress list of gross human rights violators (Magnitsky list). AAR consortium made unprecedented and unjust profits from the most controversial oil deal done with top insiders in the Kremlin at a huge expense of Russian taxpayers in 2012 ($28 billion in cash).

We demand new and thorough due diligence into the activities of these oligarchs, based on clearly defined ethical norms and carried out by reputable, independent investigators. There are concrete questions to be asked by new due diligence at Oxford about AAR’s affiliation with the Kremlin and the Russian security service, the FSB, their joint business history and ethical standards (list with questions attached).

We have to submit these questions as Oxford's own Committee to Review Donations (CRD) clearly failed to ask any of these or other common sense questions. We now know from Freedom of Information Requests that in 2007-2010 CRD did not have a single member with working Russian language or expertise in Russian politics and oligarchy. We also know that several members of CRD had direct knowledge of disreputable events taking place in TNK-BP in Russia at the time but chose to ignore them during diligence process. Meanwhile two external members of the CRD - Sir Victor Blank and Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones - had been heavily criticized for failures in due diligence in their main professions and exposed by UK press around the same time when they were part of CRD.

We demand a vigorous public debate about grants and awards that involves students, alumni, tutors, NGOs, political dissidents and the media. Only through such a debate can we establish how to deal ethically with highly controversial decisions taken by academic administrators in the past and how to uphold the broader interests of Oxford University and its community.  

Following this debate and an independent assessment, the University will be in a better position to decide whether the name of, and the donation for, the Blavatnik School of Government should be retained, whether an award, made jointly with Alfa Bank, should be reviewed, and, additionally, what procedures in the future should guide any cooperation with any Russian oligarchs.

We believe it is high time to demand transparency and procedural reforms at Oxford with regard to foreign donations and awards that will be beneficial to the University in the longer term and thus will open a cleaner chapter in broader UK-Russia relations.

Closed list: if you are concerned with your security related to Russia but still support the cause, you can join closed list. See below.

Copy of the Letter to the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/nov/03/oxford-university-accused-over-oligarch-len-blavatnik-75m-donation

Official petition page with updates: https://www.facebook.com/stopcomrades

The campaign goes under three hashtags which represent our goals:

1) #StopPutinsComrades - aimed at Oxford and all academic entities who cooperate with AAR oligarchs

2) #PracticeGovernanceYouTeach - directed specifically at Blavatnik School of Government, Said Business School and University of Oxford in general.

3) #UKAdoptMagnitskyLaw - the two cases mentioned in the petition suggest the earlier UK adopts its own list of gross human rights violators like the US did in 2012, the easier it would be for due diligence process at universities

Background:

Attached questions concern two aspects of cooperation of Oxford University with the consortium of Russian-born billionaires called Access Alfa Renova (AAR): Blavatnik School of Government and The Award for Excellence in Foreign Investment in Russia (held jointly by Alfa Bank and Said Business School in 2007-2011). There has also been an intention announced by Viktor Vekselberg in 2012 for cooperation between Oxford University and Skolkovo which is not addressed separately, as it has not happened yet, but some of the questions on AAR’s track record in Russia should be useful if such cooperation is indeed seriously considered in future.

Initial petition was signed by:

1. Ilya Zaslavskiy, graduate of Oxford University, founder and head of Oxford alumni society in Moscow (2004-2010), former employee of TNK-BP fabricated as a spy by FSB with the help of TNK security in 2008.
2. Vladimir Bukovsky, soviet dissident
3. Pavel Litvinov, soviet dissident leader, director of Andrey Sakharov Foundation
4. Martin Dewhirst, lecturer in Russian language and literature at the University of Glasgow (1964-2000).
5. Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik, graduate of Cambridge and former Socially Responsible Investment Officer at Cambridge University Students' Union. 
6. Boris Kuznetsov, writer, lawyer, political immigrant
7. Sergei Bobylyov, founder of Sunrise company that was raided by people from Alfa with help of Russian officials from the Magnitsky list
8. Zara Murtazaliyeva, former prisoner of conscience fabricated by FSB as a terrorist
9. Nadiya Kravets, Graduate of Oxford University, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
10. Vladimir Milov, former Deputy Energy Minister,  leader of Democratic Choice party of Russia
11. Andrei Sannikov, Deputy Foreign minister of Belarus (1995-1996), Bruno Kreisky International Human Rights Prize (2005), former prisoner of conscience
12. Peter Reddaway, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
13. Dr. Andrei Piontkovsky , Hudson Institute, Senior Visiting Fellow
14.Andrey Sidelnikov, political immigrant, the leader of the political movement "Speak Up!"
15. Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, writer and translator, human rights activist
16. Pavel Stroilov, historian and writer
17. Mihály Fazekas, University of Cambridge, post-doctoral researcher, corruption expert
18. Vlad Burlutsky, Greater New York Area coordinator, Free Russia Foundation, member of the Russian political party PARNAS, political asylee
19. Cécile Vaissié, Professor in Russian and Soviet Studies, Rennes 2 University (France).  
20. Leonid Martynyuk, member of the political council of the Solidarnost (Solidarity) opposition movement, Boris Nemtsov’s co-author of the reports "The Life of a Galley Slave" and "Winter Olympics in the Sub-Tropics"
21. Marius Laurinavičius, Senior Fellow-in-residence, Center for European Policy Analysis

+ 6 people on the Closed List who are supporting the petition but do not want to reveal their identity in public for fear of Russia or work related connections. Their names will only be revealed to a new due diligence committee at Oxford if it is convened and only under Data Protection Act. To join Closed List email izaslavskiy at icloud.com

Both lists are growing and will get updated accordingly.

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Administration of Oxford University
    Chris Patten

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