Vienna, February 2, 2021—Central European University (CEU) expresses its grave concern over the detention and sentencing of alumna Ann Vellikok, in Russia by Russian authorities. A graduate of the Department of Political Science, Ann was detained Friday morning, after the apartment she shares with her partner, a close aide of imprisoned anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was searched by the authorities. She was arraigned for questioning as a witness under Article 236 of the Criminal Code ("Violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules that negligently caused mass illness or poisoning of people or created a threat of such consequences” — the infamous “coronavirus clause”), and subsequently tried in court.
Ann was sentenced to 14 days of arrest for organizing an unauthorized procession and rally, despite denying any involvement.
We believe that the citizens of Russia have the right to freedom of expression and assembly. Both are the bedrock of liberal democracy. Russians have the right to peacefully protest and the law should protect them against arbitrary detention. We call on the authorities in Russia to release Ann Vellikok and the thousands of others detained in recent weeks. We want Ann Vellikok to know that her university stands by her.
CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff
Head of the Department of Political Science at CEU Zoltan Miklosi