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Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University Fights Censorship Allegations

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is surrounded by students of the first graduating class of 2015 and teachers with Nazarbayev University in Astana on June 15. The 5-year-old university is contesting accusations by a former Dutch lecturer that it was stifling academic freedom to openly discuss topics controversial to the Kazakh government. (Photo: Kazakh Presidential Press Service)

Management and staff at Kazakhstan’s flagship university are disputing recent accusations of censorship from a lecturer, who alleges he is being squeezed out over attempts to hold lectures on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
 
In a widely circulated statement, Marcel de Haas, a 54-year old retired military officer of the Dutch army, earlier this month accused Nazarbayev University of using underhanded methods to revoke his contract and exercising censorship. The lecturer claimed efforts to prevent a public talk in August 2014 about the developing confrontation in Ukraine came at the behest of a Russian embassy official in Astana and suggested the university had caved in to outside pressure.
 
Now, several current and former international colleagues at the university have expressed strong objections over de Haas’ account and instead hailed what they called their employer’s tolerance for the open exchange of ideas.
 

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Peter Leonard is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.

Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University Fights Censorship Allegations

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