University of Edinburgh withdraws honorary degree from Russian MP

He is a close ally of Vladimir Putin

The University of Edinburgh has announced its decision to withdraw an honorary degree from Russian MP and TV presenter Vyacheslav Nikonov.

In 2012, Mr Nikonov was awarded the degree for his involvement with a cultural foundation, backed by the Russian state and based at the university.

The MP has been the Head of the Ruskiy Mir Foundation since 2007, which has contributed £241,949 in funds towards the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre at the Edinburgh Uni.

Now, the MP and TV presenter, who has close ties with President Vladimir Putin, has been sanctioned by both UK and US Governments following his support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, he has faced a UK government travel ban and has had his assets frozen.

In a public statement on its website, the University of Edinburgh announced it is in the process of reviewing all its relationships with Russia.

In addition to the withdrawal of Nikonov’s degree, the university confirmed to The Edinburgh Tab that all its investments in Russian-related assets have had their market value “written down to zero”, and so cannot be sold at this time.

A spokesperson for The University of Edinburgh said: “We have formally confirmed withdrawal of the honorary degree awarded to the Head of the Ruskiy Mir Foundation, Vyacheslav Nikonov.

“We have reviewed the implications for our endowment portfolio, a very small proportion of which included indirect investments in Russian-related assets. These investments are now listed as suspended for trading purposes and the market value has been written down to zero so cannot be sold at this time. Where these are held in pooled funds, we are continuing to engage with fund managers as part of our ongoing review.

“These appalling events are the actions of the Russian Government and not the Russian people and we remain committed to the free exchange of ideas between universities and between academics, regardless of nationality or location, while recognising the importance of managing the risks associated with international collaboration.”