In the summer of 1999, Nikolay Kropachev, the then Dean of the Faculty of Law, refused to follow the so-called “Rector’s list” (the list of university applicants whose admission he was supposed to facilitate) and, several days after, was a guest on Event, Sergey Chernyadyev’s talk show broadcast on St. Petersburg TV.
The programme featured the footage of the entrance exam in the Russian language (an essay writing) held in one of the rooms of the Faculty of Law. A CCTV camera installed in the room captured one professor of philology who was supervising the examination to ensure fair competition of applicants. At the start of the session, that same professor looked through the essay topics, wrote a draft and – right in front of the other candidates and colleagues – handed it over to one of the applicants.
When asked by the programme host to comment on the incident, Kropachev gave a very terse reply, “Corruption.” In the programme Kropachev talked about some other measures he takes as Dean of the Faculty of Law to prevent the infringement of applicants’ rights.
Meanwhile, the University, following the decree of Rector Lyudmila Verbitskaya, assigned Marina Shishkina, Dean of the Faculty of Journalism, to investigate the case of “libel and defamation against the University.” As the findings were submitted to the Committee, it immediately issued an organizational verdict: Nikolay Kropachev was dismissed from the position of Dean by Rector’s Order of Termination of Employment issued August 30, 1999. Fortunately, the initiative to dissolve the Academic Council of the Faculty of Law and create another alternative Faculty of Law developed by the University was not welcomed by the majority of its members.
September 1, 1999, the SPbU Academic Council spoke in support of Rector’s decision. Among others, Marina Shishkina said, “As a Dean, I am in support of Rector’s decision. Do you want to know why? Unfortunately, labour laws do not state that it is not allowed to be rude, offensive or insulting. I believe it is unacceptable to offend our Rector, a guarantor of the moral code and moral atmosphere – this is what each University member should bear in mind.”
In fact, participating in sessions of the SPbU Academic Council and the University Senate before his dismissal, Kropachev had often criticized administrative, economic and admissions policy of SPbU senior management team as encouraging corruption and protectionism.
His efforts did not go unnoticed at another session of the SPbU Academic Council held September 1, 1999, “We have to admit that this conflict is rooted in the /.../ attempts to fight against poor and irresponsible administrative management the University is witnessing these days. What has released to the press is no secret – the Senate and the Council heard Kropachev and other faculty members speak about all these issues openly.”