The Academic Council at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MFTI) voted against extending the contract of Mikhail Balashov, a mathematics professor and member of the University Solidarity labor union, following his comments to Radio Liberty about the school’s internal restructuring debate. Balashov says he was fired for “obstructing MFTI’s development” by organizing the faculty and speaking to journalists. “They told me that Radio Liberty is an awful radio station,” he says.
In May, Radio Liberty published a story about MFTI’s controversial plan to restructure its departments, replacing them with “physicotechnical schools.” The reforms have apparently confused and angered many faculty, canceling several classes and throwing instructors’ course loads into chaos.
Grigory Ivanov, the head of MFTI’s advanced mathematics department, toldthe Academic Council that he suspects Balashov is “the victim of certain opposition-minded colleagues who wanted to put MFTI’s administration at the center of a big scandal,” speculating that his non-reappointment would lead to negative media coverage and possibly even some protests. “This scenario will have an extremely negative impact on the advanced mathematics department, many of whose members belong to the University Solidarity labor union,” Ivanov argued.