Libel threat over law degree sale allegation

October 22, 2004

One of Russia's top universities is planning legal action after media reports alleged its rector had been arrested in a 14 million rouble (£5,000) law degree swindle.

Officials at Moscow State University of Culture and Arts said that reports earlier this month that rector Tatiana Kiselyova had been arrested for selling illicit law diplomas were groundless.

The reports led to a rash of newspaper headlines suggesting the university's law course - one of more than 30 specialisations offered by the 75-year-old institution - was not legally accredited and that at least 130 illicit law degrees had been awarded over the past two years.

A statement refuting all the allegations had been posted on the university's website, according to vice-rector Vladimir Misikhin, and a complaint lodged with the district public prosecutor's office. "We have had no visits from the economic crime unit," he said.

Russian law enforcement agencies are taking an increasingly proactive approach to public-sector scams after calls by President Vladimir Putin to crack down on corruption.

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