MOSCOW, November 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s education minister on Thursday ordered an investigation following complaints about massive layoffs at the country’s most venerable and respected university.
As of Monday, 46 employees of the Lomonosov Moscow State University had signed up to an open appeal to President Vladimir Putin, who is also the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, asking him to stop the ongoing staff reduction.
The authors of the appeal, most whom work in the university’s natural sciences departments, say jobs are being cut to comply with a recent presidential decree to raise lecturers’ salaries.
In line with the initiative, MSU Rector Viktor Sadovnichy has issued an order to raise average monthly salaries up to around 65,000 rubles ($2,000) this year.
“The government has obliged Moscow University to raise the average salary of its employees, but has failed to provide sufficient funding for the purpose,” the appeal reads. “The MSU has no other way to raise salaries to the intended level but to lay off its scientists and lecturers.”
Science and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said the appeal was incorrect in its assessment.
“MSU, just like other Russian universities, has received additional funding to raise salaries,” Livanov said Thursday.
“I instructed [the education watchdog] to look into this situation and work out what is happening and whether the rights of those lecturers are being violated,” the minister said.
Sadovnichy dismissed the appeal as nonsense and said he had no information that any full-time employees at the university had been fired.
Moscow State University was founded in 1755 and is believed to be the country’s oldest university. It was named after its founder, scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, by Soviet authorities in 1940.