Oxford University has been urged to review its decision to accept £75m from Len Blavatnik, Britain’s richest man, to build the Blavatnik school of government.
In a letter to the Guardian, the signatories accuse the university of failing to investigate whether Blavatnik and other “oligarchs” played any role in what they describe as a state-sponsored campaign of harassment against BP in Russia. Oxford “should stop selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates,” it says.
In 2008 and 2009 dozens of British and western managers were “forced out of Russia”, the letter adds, in a bitter dispute between BP and a group of powerful Russian billionaires. The billionaires, including Blavatnik, were joint partners with BP in TNK-BP, Russia’s third-biggest oil company.
The university says it did not look into the dispute, which the AAR consortium won. In 2013 the oligarchs sold their stake to the Russian state oil giant Rosneft in what the letter describes as “a highly controversial deal”.
It adds: “Oxford University apparently failed to investigate these facts, AAR’s track record from the beginning, and its close ties with the Kremlin … We insist that the university should stop selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates. It should and carry out a new and independent due diligence investigation with clearly defined ethical norms.”
Go make your own £75 million and donate it as you wish.