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Stop the stigmatisation of the Levada-Center as a "foreign agent"!

This petition had 15,787 supporters

Attack on Academic Freedom - Appeal for Solidarity with the Levada Centre

Academic freedom is under attack from the Russian authorities. The independent Levada Centre for opinion research has been targeted. On 15 May 2013, the prosecutor's office of Moscow's Savelovskaia district issued a warning to the institute citing violations of Russia's law on non-profit organizations. The Levada Centre receives "funding from abroad" and engages in "political activity" through the publication of its research. With that, according to the warning, the centre fulfils the "function of a foreign agent". We strongly condemn this attempt by the Russian authorities to defame the Levada Centre, led by Prof. Dr. Lev Gudkov, as a "foreign agent".

The approach amounts to an attempt to impede the centre's work. The prosecutor's office has vilified academic co-operation and the standards of the academic community, to which international exchange of course belongs. In doing so, they have contradicted Russia's claim to be an equal partner in open global research. The Levada Centre, with its empirical sociological research, is considered an institution of high standing.

Anybody who wants to gain a detailed picture of society, politics, and public opinion in Russia is dependent on the centre's work and its transparent methods. Not only the Levada Centre, but all independent empirical research in Russia is at risk. The authorities' actions are an attack on academic freedom and the freedom of speech. They constitute a violation of the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

This attack on the Levada Centre marks the start of a new phase in the political efforts to intimidate and to destroy those forces of Russian civil society that the state finds unacceptable. Since March 2013, around 600 non-governmental organisations have been subjected to reviews by the prosecutor's office. Their stigmatisation as "foreign agents" is a form of propaganda that is rooted in Stalinism and that the Soviet secret police used against human rights activists and dissidents. We cannot and must not accept this.

- We call on the Russian authorities to end their unconstitutional and anti-European conduct immediately and to cease with the stigmatisation of the Levada Centre as a "foreign agent".

- We encourage the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to adopt a resolution condemning the use of the prosecutor's office to conduct mass reviews of Russian non-profit organisations and to stigmatise them as "foreign agents".

- We call on scientists from around the world, members of the media, and all those who value academic freedom, freedom of speech, and the development of civil society to show solidarity with the Levada Centre by signing this appeal. That international support against state repression can be successful was seen in 2007 during the broad-based solidarity campaign to save the European University in St. Petersburg.


First Signatories

Prof. Dr. Jörg Baberowski, Historiker, Humboldt Universität Berlin

Marie-Luise Beck, MdB, Sprecherin für Osteuropapolitk der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen

Dr. Klaus Bednarz, Fernsehjournalist, Köln

Prof. Dr. Timm Beichelt, Politikwissenschaftler, Universität Viadrina Frankfurt

Prof. em. Dietrich Beyrau, Historiker, Universität Tübingen

Prof. Dr. Thomas Bremer, Religionswissenschaftler, Universität Münster

Dr. Heike Dörrenbächer, Geschäftsführerin, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, Berlin

Prof. em. Wolfgang Eichwede, Gründungsdirektor der Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen

Prof. Dr. Maria Ferretti, Historikerin, Roma

Dr. Mischa Gabowitsch, Soziologe, Zeithistoriker, Einstein Forum, Potsdam

JProf Caroline von Gall, Juristin, Institut für Ostrecht, Universität Köln

Dr. Gerd Koenen, Historiker und Publizist Frankfurt/Main

Dr. Petr Kratochvíl, Direktor Institut für Internationale Beziehungen, Prag

Prof. Dr. Jan Kusber, Vorsitzender des Verbands der Osteuropahistoriker, Universität Mainz

Prof. Dr. Andreas Langenohl, Soziologe, Universität Gießen,

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Lentz, Geograph, Direktor des Leibniz Instituts für Länderkunde, Leipzig

Prof. Dr. Rainer Lindner, Historiker, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, Berlin

Markus Löning, Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für Menschenrechtspolitik, Berlin

Sonja Margolina, Publizisten, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Birgit Menzel, Slavistin, Universität Mainz-Germersheim

Dr. Grigorij Mesežnikov, Präsident des slowakischen sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschungsinstituts IVO, Bratislava

Prof. em. Margareta Mommsen, Politikwissenschaftlerin, Feldafing

Prof. em. Dr. Hans Mommsen, Historiker, Feldafing

Dr. Stefan Meister, Politikwissenschaftler, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Sighard Neckel, Soziologe, Universität Frankfurt/Main

Prof. em. Dr. Claus Offe, Soziologe und Politikwissenschaftler, Berlin

Ruprecht Polenz, MdB, Vorsitzender des Auswärtigen Ausschusses des Deutschen Bundestags, Präsident der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, Berlin

Prof. em. Dr. Ulrich K. Preuß, Jurist, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

Katharina Raabe, Lektorin für osteuropäische Literaturen, Suhrkamp-Verlag, Berlin

Dirk Sager, Fernsehjournalist, Potsdam

Dr. Manfred Sapper, Chefredakteur OSTEUROPA, Berlin

Prof. em. Dr. Karl Schlögel, Historiker, Publizist, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schmid, Slavist, Kulturwissenschaftler, Universität St. Gallen

Dr. Andreas Schockenhoff, MdB, Koordinator für die deutsch-russische zwischengesellschaftliche Zusammenarbeit

Prof. Dr. Hans-Henning Schröder, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin

Dr. Susanne Schüssler, Verlegerin, Wagenbach-Verlag Berlin

Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dieter Senghaas, Friedensforscher, Bremen

Prof. Dr. Eva Senghaas, Sozialwissenschaftlerin, Bremen

Prof. Silvia von Steinsdorff, Politikwissenschaftler Humboldt Universität Berlin

Prof. em. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, Bundestagspräsidentin a.D. , Berlin

Prof. Dr. Stefan Troebst, Slavist, Zeithistoriker, Universität Leipzig

Prof. Klaus Wagenbach, Verleger, Wagenbach-Verlag, Berlin

Dr. Volker Weichsel, Redakteur OSTEUROPA, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn, Politikwissenschaftler, Direktor, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

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