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Russia’s largest private university threatens to sue ‘Stalingulag’ blogger for defamation

Russia’s largest private university, Synergy University in Moscow, is demanding that blogger Alexander Gorbunov (better known as “Stalingulag”) delete two videos that mention the university from his YouTube channel. Gorbunov reported this himself, referencing a letter of claim from the university. 

Synergy University said that the information in the video is incorrect and defames its business reputation. In one of the videos, Gorbunov explains that the university received 1 billion rubles (approximately $14 million) from the state budget. The second video explains that Synergy has faced fines for collecting the fingerprints of schoolchildren.

The letter of claim warns that defamation is a felony, punishable by fines of up to five million rubles ($69,850). The document also states that the university has the right to recover damages. According to Gorbunov, Synergy is threatening to take him to court to recover damages up to the full amount.

Alexander Gorbunov runs one of the most popular Telegram channels in Russia. Named “Stalingulag,” it has around 380,000 followers.

Gorbunov ran the Stalingulag channel anonymously for many years. He revealed his identity in May 2019 after police raided his family’s home in Dagestan. The Russian Interior Ministry said that the search followed an appeal from the blogger himself, which he has denied. As a result, the police refused to initiate criminal proceedings.