MOSCOW ― A Russian university has fired an American businessman after his presence on the faculty was questioned during a pro-Kremlin weekly television news program.
The firing was seen as fallout from the tensions between the United States and Russia, which have exacerbated suspicions of Americans and U.S.-funded organizations operating in Russia.
Nizhny Novgorod State University said in a statement late Tuesday that Kendrick White was relieved of his duties as vice rector for innovation due to a “restructuring of the management system.”
White was mentioned on Sunday’s “News of the Week” program during discussion of a proposal to create a “patriotic stop list” of Americans whose work harms Russian interests. The program questioned why a U.S. citizen held such a post at a Russian university and noted that he had hung portraits of American scientists on the university’s walls, while those of Russian scientists had “disappeared.”
The following day, his page was removed from the university’s website and White left Russia for the U.S., the Kommersant newspaper reported.
It quoted the university rector, Yevgeny Chuprunov, as saying “such are the times now” when asked to explain the decision to fire White. He refused further comment.
White, 52, has lived and worked in Russia for more than 20 years. His first position was as an adviser to the local government in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-largest city, on programs to support small businesses in the years immediately after the 1991 Soviet collapse. He later worked in corporate finance and investment consulting and was the director of a regional venture capital fund. White joined the university faculty in 2013.