In the summer of 1999, then-Dean of the Faculty of Law N. Kropachev refused to abide by the so-called “Rector’s List” during University entrance exams. The “Rector’s List” is a list of applicants who are to get a good mark on the entrance exam regardless of their knowledge. A few days after that, Kropachev took part in Sergei Chernyadyev’s TV show “Sobytie” (Russian for “Event”) on the TRK Petersburg channel.

During this broadcast, a video recording was shown of an entrance exam, an essay, in the Russian language; the exam had been conducted in one of the rooms of the Faculty of Law, which was equipped with a CCTV cam. The camera recorded actions of one of the Russian language teachers, whose responsibility it was to monitor the exam process. This teacher was to ensure equal opportunities for all entrants to showcase their knowledge when competing for admission. The teacher, after looking at the essay topics at the start of the exam, wrote his own essay draft and handed it to one of the entrants right before the eyes of the other entrants and teachers.

The TV host asked, “What are your comments on this?” Nikolay Kropachev answered laconically, “This is corruption”. During the TV show, Nikolay Kropachev also spoke about other measures he had been taking as Dean of the Faculty of Law to safeguard the rights of university entrants.

At the University, meanwhile, Rector L. Verbitskaya issued an order instructing the Dean of the Faculty of Journalism, M. Shishkina, to conduct an investigation “in response to publication of false and discrediting information about the University”. Based on the results of this “investigation”, and upon the recommendation of the committee, an administrative decision was made: the Dean of the Faculty of Law was to be discharged from his position as per the order issued by Rector L. Verbitskaya on 30 August 1999. Some members of the St Petersburg University Academic Council suggested that the Academic Council of the Faculty of Law be dismissed, and that a second, alternative Faculty of Law should be established. This, fortunately, was not supported by most Academic Council members.

Other members of the St Petersburg University Academic Council delivered speeches in support of the Rector’s decision at a meeting held on 1 September 1999. One speech included the following, “As a dean, I support the decision of Rector [M. Shishkina]. Why? It is written in the Labour Code: you cannot be rude, you cannot be abusive, you cannot insult. You cannot insult the Rector, who is the protector of our moral code and environment; the Rector is the protector and every University member should understand that.”

In the time preceding his dismissal, Nikolay Kropachev indeed had spoken repeatedly at meetings of the Academic Council and the University Senate, criticising the financial, economic and commercial activity of the University. He also criticised organisational aspects of the University entrance exams that facilitated corruption and favouritism.

This was not overlooked by members of the Academic Council of the Faculty of Law. At a 1 September 1999 meeting of the St Petersburg University Academic Council, it was stated, “Indeed, we should admit that the whole conflict has been attempts to oppose the mismanagement and irresponsibility prevailing at the University today. The information ultimately published by the press has been openly discussed by Nikolay Kropachev and other representatives of our faculty at previous meetings of the University Senate and the University Academic Council.”

FOR YOUR INFOMRATION: You can find more details concerning the financial and economic situation of the University at that time from the following sources:

  • On the eviction of more than 1,500 tenants living illegally in St Petersburg University residence halls, see the answer and the memorandum of G. Vasilyev from 25 March 2012 (with addendums from 15 May 2012)on the state of the St Petersburg University Halls of Residence in the Virtual Office section of the University portal, as well as the minutes of the Rector’s Meetings held on 22 August 2011, clause 3.2; 5 September 2011, clause 5; and 2 April 2012, clause 3;
  • On the illegal use of St Petersburg University premises for housing private restaurants, a health centre, shops, steam bathhouses, workshops, factories, a pet clinic, etc., see information on the rental of St Petersburg University premises in the minutes of the Rector’s Meeting held on 4 June 2012, clause 3.2;
  • On finding over 500,000 books left unattended for over 10 years in cement bags in an unheated warehouse of the Petrodvorets Training and Research Complex. This included books from the first Russian Social Science Library that had been removed from the library of the Vasilyevsky Island Training and Research Complex. See information provided by the Director of the St Petersburg University Library on the condition of specialist-subject book stock in the minutes of the Rector’s Meeting held on 18 April 2011, clause 3;
  • On transferring 50,000 rare books into private hands (including atlases and maps published before 1917, in Russian and in foreign languages), see the Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting held on 04 April 2011, clause 9;
  • On large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement during construction works at St Petersburg University: during the renovation of the Twelve Colleges building, see publications by from 04 October 200615 December 2008, and 15 February 2011; during the renovation and repurposing of the former NIFI (the Physics Research Institute) building to house a library, see a publication by from 09 August 2010and the minutes of the Rector’s Meetings held on  27 June 2011, clause 4; 29 August 2011, clause 4, and  19 Match 2012, clause 9);
  • On over 200 million roubles of taxes overpaid in 2000-2006 and later returned as a result of successful challenges against the tax authorities, see an article in the magazine Delovoy Peterburg, published on 29 April 2011and the minutes of the Rector’s Meeting held on 11 April 2011, clause 6;
  • On unauthorised attempts to redesign and redevelop University premises starting from 1955, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 26 March 2012, clause 4;
  • On the condition of premises and teaching equipment for academic and research activities, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 13 February 2012, clause 3;
  • On the condition of fire safety at St Petersburg University, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 9 April 2012, clause 4;
  • On the former “system of payment” for members of the academic staff and the University administration, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 17 October 2011, clause 3;
  • On the system of payment for research workers, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 24 October 2011, clause 6;
  • On improving the system of payment (including changes to the former system), see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on  7 November 2011, clause 7;
  • On the general state of financial and economic activity of St Petersburg University from the early 1990s to the middle of the 2000s, see the minutes of the Rector’s meeting held on 9 July 2012, clause 2.

Lawsuits were filed by a number of Faculty of Law members seeking cancellation of the unlawful order of the Rector. Тhe Academic Council of the Faculty of Law issued a statement demanding that the law should be followed when solving any organisational issue, including a situation of conflict. Dean N. Kropachev filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement in his position, after which the Rector of the University cancelled her order to dismiss him while the case was pending trial.