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Russian PhD students in Australia being sent away under new sanctions against Russia

Update 1 June 2015: See new related articles: "Concern that Australian PM Abbott position on MH17 has no solid basis and is unfair to Russia" and "Anti-Russia Sanctions rely on False Statement by Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister." This is an occasion for people to make factually based comments and inquiries to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Prime Minister's Office on the way Australia is participating in what appear to be ill-based hostilities. See ABC Australia apologises for bias against Russia in reporting MH17 crash and general tag: This human aspect, coupled with the involvement of oil industry concerns, highlights the problems associated with globalised, commercialised universities, globalisation and US/NATO alliances and energy resources. This is yet another warning signal of a population and economy in overshoot, locally and internationally. Expansionism is driving blocs of countries into a collision course. Our association with America has made us officially unfriendly with a large number of countries and complicit in the destruction of several. Human rights obligations are under scrutiny. We must pull back from escalations like these. [Ed. Broken link now fixed.]

We believe that some Australian universities may be sending away Russian PhD students, as under new sanctions they are not allowed to teach some of them.

Students must certify that they are not studying in any of the areas related to the new sanctions policy, otherwise their projects cannot be continued. See below statement by the University of Queensland, last updated: May 4, 2015 at

"The Regulation amends the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 (the Principal Regulations) by expanding the scope of existing measures in relation to Russia. These measures include an arms embargo, restrictions on the access of Russian state-owned banks to Australian capital markets, preventing the export of goods and services for use in Russia’s oil exploration or production, and restrictions on Australian trade and investment in Crimea." (Excerpt from the attached "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356")

This document also goes into the possibility that the sanctions might contravene human rights obligations, but argues with itself that it does not:

"The human rights obligation that may possibly be affected by the amendment to the Regulation is the presumption of innocence. Article 14(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. As strict liability offences allow for the imposition of criminal liability without the need to prove fault, all strict liability offences engage the presumption of innocence in article 14(2) of the ICCPR. A strict liability offence will not necessarily violate the presumption of innocence provided that it is: (i) aimed at achieving a purpose which is legitimate; (ii) based on reasonable and objective criteria, and (iii) proportionate to the aim to be achieved.

Regulations 12, 12A, 13 and 13A of the Principal Regulation provide that strict liability applies to the circumstance that the sanctioned supply, sanctioned import, sanctioned service or sanctioned commercial activity is not authorised by a permit under regulation 18 of the Principal Regulation. The Amendment Regulation extends these provisions to certain supplies, imports, services or commercial activity in relation to Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol. The effect of this is that strict liability applies to the existence or otherwise of a sanctions permit. For an individual, strict liability will not to apply to any other element of the offence. The purpose of this provision is to prevent a spurious defence that a statement of the Minister could be taken as de facto authorisation to engage in conduct that is prohibited under the Act.
Either the permit exists or it does not exist." (Excerpt from the attached "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356")

This news-article post is made quickly and without yet having absorbed the detail of allegations against Russia - if it is available in these documents or elsewhere.

See also Autonomous Sanctions (Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol) Specification 2015- F2015L00390 which is dated 1 March 2015 with the date to be ceased in 2025. It seems utterly amazing that we are cutting ourselves off from Russian and affiliated bloc knowledge and expertise gained independently and complemetarily to the familiar Western sources on the basis of extremely flimsy allegations.

One fervently hopes that Julia Bishop will show the initiative she has shown in Iran and seek detailed dialogue with Russia's foreign affairs and trade ministers and President Putin in these matters and that they will quickly be resolved. One also fervently hopes that the whole US/NATO incursion on Russia's borders and in the Middle East will be quickly scaled down, despite the growing influence of "Hawks" behind the United States' current expansive and warlike policies. As things seem to stand, our dependence on the United States looks like a liability and puts us at odds in many cases with Indonesia and other countries we have strong associations with, due to the US's anti-Russia attitude and its incursions in the Middle East.

Below is a quote from a statement by the University of Queensland, last updated: May 4, 2015 at

"Sanctions and UQ

Of particular relevance to UQ is the provision of technical training or assistance related to military activities and/or the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of arms and related material of all types including; weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, spare parts and accessories for the former. This includes goods present on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), including ‘dual use goods’ which may not be of a military nature.

Iran, Syria, Russia and Ukraine also have specific sanctions in terms of ‘export sanctioned goods’. The provision of technical training or assistance in the use, development, manufacture or maintenance of these goods is also of relevance to the University.

Studying at UQ

For all applicants who are a citizen of a country listed above, including those who are a permanent resident or hold dual citizenship of Australia, the Graduate School is required to complete an assessment of the proposed research project against current sanction regimes. In some cases a review by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is also required.

The assessment will include the nature of the research project as well as the goods and equipment that will be used throughout the program.

This will mean that an application for admission and scholarship will take longer to process. In order to assist UQ with the sanctions assessment applicants will need to submit a 2-4 page research proposal with their application.

Unfortunately some applicants may not be able to study their intended or preferred research topic, and a revision of the research project for Research Higher Degree study may be required."

See also

We attach the government's "Explanatory Statement to F2015L00356" in regard to this matter.


In an article in Russia's Sputnik news, Ekaterina Blinova writes, "In an interview with Sputnik, Australian social activists and members of Australia's Labor Party, Susan and Iman Safi, highlighted the problem of media misinformation in the West, Australia's deplorable political dependency on Washington and the role of Russia in global affairs.

"Western media, which is "best" represented by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, has lost its honesty, independence, and the quest for investigative journalism. Where are today's equivalents of Bernstein and Woodford who broke the story of the Watergate scandal?" Susan and Iman Safi emphasized.

So far, according to the social activists, it is hardly surprising that Australia's media sources have jumped on the bandwagon of the US-led anti-Russia campaign.

Read more:

I just wish we could hear a Russian voice on the ABC arguing the Russian case, just once! Not only is that not the case, or if the Russian ambassador comments we only hear a fraction of what he said and it’s in a vacuum that extracts the relevant context, but there is nothing else available. The supplement that used to appear in the Age/SMH every month called ‘Russia beyond the Headlines’, stopped appearing after Christmas without satisfactory explanation – though it was not RBTH’s fault. The only other apparent printed or audible voice of Russia is in the Australian National Review, which has remarkably alternative articles, particularly about Ukraine and Russia. This month’s copy has sensible analyses about Yemen and about Kiev’s assassination of journalists, unreported in our press. But despite it being prominently displayed in numerous newsagents, people don’t seem to be buying it; locally I’m responsible for about 30% of all purchases in the last 5 months.
So even when you get a national newspaper printed with alternative viewpoints, you can still fail to break through the ‘bullshit blizzard’.