Meanwhile in Czar Putin’s Russia a university was forced to close down. The St. Petersburg European University – a non-governmental institution offering post-graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences – was told to close its doors because of safety concerns. Officially the closure was because of violation of fire protection regulations.

But university employees tell that the university has been closed because of political reasons, reports Kommersand, Russia’s daily online newspaper. The fire inspection came to the university after deputies of the State Duma, members of United Russia party, and the general Prosecutor’s office had taken an interest in an EU-funded program for training election observers.

The respective three-year program was launched in early 2007 and funded by the EU grant of €673,000. Authorities lashed out at it from the beginning, saying the money was appropriated not for some research work but for creating a net of observers here and viewing it as an attempt of direct interference into Russia’s election campaigns of 2007 to 2008.

putin Andrei Yurov, a human rights and education expert, said that closing a university for breaching fire regulations looks at least strange. According to him, Russia hardly has any universities meeting all standards of fire protection.

A week ago, Putin placed limitations on foreign election because he perceived it as foreign influence on the upcoming presidential election. This led the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to pull out of monitoring the March 2 elections.

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