The appalling verdict in the case of Russian mathematician Azat Miftakhov

The international mathematical community is gravely concerned about the situation of Azat Miftakhov, a graduate student from Moscow State University who has been imprisoned by Russian state authorities for nearly two years.

We are appalled and horrified by the verdict of the Golovinsky District Court in Moscow, as announced today (18 January 2021).

“We find Azat Fanisovich Miftakhov guilty of disorderly conduct in collusion with a group of persons, motivated by political hatred, using an object as a weapon, and sentence him to six years imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony, ” the judge announced in his verdict. 

“Miftakhov’s rehabilitation is possible only in isolation from society in a medium-security penal colony,” the court decided.

Miftakhov’s defence team announced that it would appeal the verdict.

“Of course, we will appeal. We insisted on an acquittal,” lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina told Tass.

We have been following Miftakhov’s case since October 2020, and we have come to believe that the charges against him are a pure invention of the Russian authorities.

On January 4, 2021, we sent a letter concerning the case of Azat Miftakhov, signed by 47 mathematicians, to the members of the Executive Organizing Committee and Local Organizing Committee of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) that will be held in Saint  Petersburg in 2022. We also alerted the International Mathematical Union.

A recent petition in support of Azat Miftakhov has been signed by more than 3000 mathematicians from more than 15 countries.

Over fifty academicians, corresponding members, and professors of the Russian Academy of Sciences published an open letter about the Miftakhov case.

“The punishment already borne by Azat does not appear to be commensurate with the crime he is alleged to have committed, and the sentence of six years in a penal colony requested for him by the state prosecutor provokes our indignation. We urge the court to release Azat Miftakhov,” the Russian academics wrote, in particular.

Professor Anatoly Vershik, former president of the Saint Petersburg Mathematical Society, member of the European Academy of Sciences, Humboldt Prize laureate, and chief researcher in the Saint Petersburg section of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics (Russian Academy of Sciences), told Novaya Gazeta on January 10, 2021: 

“We mathematicians are meticulous people, we need proofs. Gradually, even the most conservative skeptics have realized that the situation around Azat Miftakhov is absurd.”

A fact sheet on the case of Azat Miftakhov can be found here. A French version is available here.

We will continue to monitor Miftakhov’s case and render him our support until he is released, and his rights are fully restored. We hold the Russian authorities directly responsible for the safety and physical and moral integrity of our colleague.


Ahmed Abbes, mathematician, Director of research at CNRS, Paris

Michel Broué, Professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of Paris

Chandler Davis, Professor emeritus of mathematics, University of Toronto.

Adrien Deloro, Associate professor of mathematics at Sorbonne Université

Fabien Durand, Président de la Société Mathématique de France, Professor of mathematics, Université de Picardie Jules Verne

Ivar Ekeland, FRSC, Professor emeritus of mathematics and former President, University of Paris-Dauphine

Dennis Gaitsgory, Professor of mathematics, Harvard University

Michael Harris, Professor of mathematics, Columbia University

Ilya Kapovich, Professor of mathematics, Hunter College of CUNY, Chair, Committee on the Human Rights of Mathematicians, American Mathematical Society

Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor, Harvard University

Raphaël Rouquier, Professor of mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles

Masha Vlasenko, professor at the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences