Kremlin Closes Top Russian University

Shutdown reportedly retaliation against target of Putin's ire
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2008 10:20 AM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures speaking to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the Kremlin in Moscow, Friday, Feb. 8, 2008.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A leading Russia university, attacked by Vladimir Putin as an agent of American and European intervention, has been shut down, the Guardian reports. A court ordered the European University at St. Petersburg to close on Friday, ostensibly because its aging buildings posed a fire hazard, but school officials say the move is retaliation by the Kremlin for the university's involvement in election monitoring.

The European University, one of the country's top graduate schools, recently accepted an EU grant to research election reform. Its participation in a program that encourages fair elections landed it in Putin's crosshairs. "The university was carrying out important work in connection with election monitoring," said an opposition leader. "Now it's being punished for it."