A mathematician named Misha Verbitsky was arrested while trying to leave his native Russia for a conference in Poland, and is now banned from leaving the country. Apparently, he had been convicted in absentia of infringing Igor Pugach’s copyright in a blog post criticising him.
I was forwarded this email by a professor in my department:
Misha Verbitsky is an important Russian mathematician who faces legal problems. He was sewed because he wears a beard which another Russian citizen registred as trademark. The whole story can be read here: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/mathematician-slapped-with-travel-ban-at-request-of-bearded-prince/457074.html
As stupid as it may seem, Misha has to deffend himself in court and, in the meantime, he is not allowed to leave Russia. He was arrested when trying to attend a mathematics conference in Warsaw.
Next week he should be in Nantes (France), at a conference he co-organized. It is not at all clear he will be permited to attend. I think it is important to prove we are close to him. I opened a petition for Misha at http://www.change.org/petitions/president-vladimir-putin-stop-legal-harassment-against-mathematician-misha-verbitsky
Please sign it and tell about it to other colleagues.
Liviu Ornea firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Bucharest email@example.com Faculty of Mathematics
14 Academiei str.
It now seems that that email was rather inaccurate because, according to comments on the Secret Blogging Seminar, Misha appealed the charges and they were overturned quite quickly, but he’s still banned from travelling until the FSB clear the decision. The Moscow Times article is worth reading anyway, because Igor Pugach seems like a fearfully quirky character.
What an odd situation.