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.
I’m confused: are BP the good guys this time? I thought they were the bad guys, killing penguins in the Gulf of Mexico and outrageously trying to greenwash their image by sponsoring the arts.
So who are the signatories? Are they people we should listen to?
“The signatories include Pavel Litvinov, one of eight people who in 1968 protested on Red Square against Moscow’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was exiled for five years to Siberia. Another is Vladimir Bukovsky, jailed by the KGB. Bukovsky, who lives in Cambridge, exposed the Kremlin’s use of psychiatric treatment against dissidents.
Others include former Oxford academics and graduates, members of Russia’s democratic opposition and human rights activists. “
Ah. That’s that question answered then.
Nothing new here. Universities have always prostituted their respectability to those with money who needed it.
The question is why is this character handing over £75 mil to a British Uni? Why not endow a Russian one?. Putin has a few good points but lots of bad ones. If this is some attempt by a pal of his to use the Oxford brand for proputinic purposes the cash is far from an unalloyed good. The list of protesters seem not to be the usual leftist trash.
There are three possibilities for what happened between Rosneft, TNK-BP, and AAR:
1. BP CEO Bob Dudley was not aware that BP should have discussed the Rosneft deal with their TNK-BP partners, the consortia AAR, in which case he is hopelessly ill-informed bordering on incompetent.
2: BP deliberately bypassed AAR assuming they would not object to the deal with Rosneft, which would make Dudley hopelessly ill-informed bordering on incompetent.
3. BP deliberately bypassed AAR assuming Rosneft or Kremlin heavies would lean on AAR to drop any objections. This would make Dudley complicit in unethical behaviour which not only undermines the standing of his own company (kind of hard to complain about rough treatment in future, eh?), but also compromises the whole industry. Western companies are supposed to come to Russia to set and example and show everyone how it’s done, not engage in thuggery.
“Oxford University apparently failed to investigate these facts”
Rather begs the question to what extent Oxford University is expected to investigate a 6-year old dispute won by the donor. Rather cheaper to stick a clause in to rename the building if he’s ever convicted of anything.
I’d this just the left looking for a court to suit the crime, again?
‘accept £75m from Len Blavatnik’
Will these notes look different than the other notes in the school’s treasury?
Stick in a murder or three and it’s an excellent plot for Lewis. Sadly, the series has been terminated so it won’t be made, but come to think about it, that plot has already been used in both Morse and Lewis.