UB statement on faculty and staff returning from Russia

Release Date: December 12, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The following is a statement from the University at Buffalo:

“University at Buffalo officials worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Russia to facilitate the disposition of the proceedings related to two UB School of Management faculty members, two UB staff members and one UB alumna who were detained while visiting the country. We understand that this matter has been resolved and the group has arrived back in the U.S. We are still gathering information and expect to conduct a full debriefing on the matter in the coming days.”

Background information:

What was the purpose of the group’s trip?

Two UB School of Management faculty members, two UB staff members and one UB alumna traveled to Russia on Dec. 3. These overseas trips are routine activities for U.S. business schools and are aligned with the School of Management’s mission to deepen its understanding of global business.

Why and when were they detained?

The individuals were detained for several hours in Ryazan, Russia, on Dec. 9. We are still gathering specific details on why our colleagues were detained. The Soviet District Court of Ryazan indicated that their visit to the Moscow Polytechnic University on Dec. 6 didn’t correspond to the group’s declared purpose of entering the Russian Federation.

At this point, we believe there was a misunderstanding between the UB faculty and staff and the Russian university regarding the purpose of their brief visit to the Russian university. UB faculty and staff viewed it as an open discussion but it appears the Russian university interpreted it as a formal lecture.

On Dec. 10, each person paid a small fine and left Russia the following day. We are still gathering information and expect to conduct a full debriefing on the matter in the coming days.

What did the university do to assist them?

UB officials worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Russia to facilitate the disposition of the proceedings. We’re pleased the matter has been resolved and the group arrived back in the U.S. on Dec. 12.

Were they traveling on a tourist visa?

Yes, that is not uncommon in higher education. Generally, tourist visa regulations allow for individuals to visit countries for the purpose of learning more about the country or to facilitate certain business-related activities.

Were they in violation of visa status?

We are still gathering information and expect to conduct a full debriefing on the matter in the coming days.

When was UB notified of the group’s detained status?

UB officials were notified Dec. 9. UB officials were able to quickly confirm that the individuals were safe, had been treated well and were in contact with family and friends. 

Will the charges be appealed?

We do not know if any of the individuals plan to appeal the charges.

Will UB release their names?

Out of respect for their privacy we are not releasing their names at this point.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this statement incorrectly stated that five UB faculty and staff members visited Russia.

Media Contact Information

Media Relations (University Communications)
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Buffalo, NY 14260-7015
Tel: 716-645-6969
Fax: 716-645-3765
ub-news@buffalo.edu