Portugal: Sacking of Russian from Coimbra Uni supported by his work contracts only

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The documents that support the dismissal process of Russian professor Vladimir Pliassov from the University of Coimbra are the employment contracts concluded with the professor, according to the documentation sent to the Lusa agency by the institution.

The Lusa agency had requested, on 26 May, access to the documents associated with the process that led to the dismissal of Professor Vladimir Pliassov, a day after two Ukrainian activists accused the professor of “Russian propaganda”.

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After the University of Coimbra (UC) refused to send or allow access to such documents, the committee for access to administrative documents (CADA), following a complaint by Lusa, issued an opinion that ordered the sending of all documents supporting the decision, including legal opinions, documentary evidence and others.

As a result of this decision, the UC sent Lusa three documents: the employment contract that Vladimir Pliassov signed with the institution between the 2019/2020 academic year and August 2022 (when he retired); the contract concluded for the year 2022/2023; and the rector’s order that determined the termination of this last contract.

None of the documents sent corresponds to any kind of documentary evidence that supports the accusations that had been launched by two Ukrainian activists a day before the dismissal and one of the documents (the last contract) contradicts what had been the position of the rector of the University of Coimbra, that it would not have been aware of this same agreement between the Faculty of Arts and Vladimir Pliassov for the year 2022/2023 (the hiring was authorised by Vice-Rector Luís Neves, on 7 July 2022).

The order signed by the UC Rector, Amílcar Falcão, which determines the termination of the contractual relationship with Vladimir Pliassov, makes no reference to the accusation of “Russian propaganda” of which the professor was the target or the behaviour of the professor that would motivate his dismissal.

In this order, the rector indicates that “it is not in the interest of the University of Coimbra to maintain the validity of the referred contract”, terminating the link, under the powers attributed to him by the institution’s statutes, in an order signed on 10 May.

The order, which reports on the contracts previously concluded with the professor, makes no reference to any charges against the professor, although the UC’s initial statement on the matter stated that the activities of the Centre for Russian Studies that Vladimir Pliassov directed “would be going beyond” the exclusive teaching of Russian language and literature.

Although Amílcar Falcão publicly stated that the decision would have been taken on the basis of legal advice, no such document was sent to the Lusa agency.

Confronted by Lusa on this issue, the communication office of the University of Coimbra said that the rector “had the legal support of the UC services, prior to making the decision”.

Regarding the absence of any document referring to a legal opinion from the services, the same response states that the opinion is ” cast in the body of the termination order “, with reference to the rule that supports the decision to dismiss Vladimir Pliassov.

Subsequently, the Lusa agency again questioned the UC about the process and the documents associated with it, and had no further response on the matter.

Shortly after the decision, Amílcar Falcão had refused to explain the facts that supported the dismissal of the Russian professor, but assured that his decisions were “reasoned” and had ” time to mature “.

“The facts are very complex,” the rector told the Lusa agency at the time, assuring that he had “other types of data” in his possession.

After the termination of the contract, two petitions appeared, one from UC professors and researchers, against the way Vladimir Pliassov had been dismissed, another only from professors of the Faculty of Arts, demanding an urgent opening of a fact-finding procedure associated with the dismissal.

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