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Five UB associates detained, deported from Russia

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Five academics from the University at Buffalo are back in the United States, after they were briefly detained while visiting Russia.

According to university officials, two UB School of Management faculty members, two UB staff members and one UB alumna traveled to Russia on December 3 for a scheduled visit as part of a mission to better understand international business.

They were in Russia on a tourist visa but two of the delegates, according to the Moscow Times, delivered a lecture while at the Moscow Polytechnic Institute. The UB associates were detained December 9. It was not reported what was said during the lecture by according to the Times, a Russian court ruled it was a violation of the tourist visa.

"University at Buffalo officials worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Russia to facilitate the disposition of the proceedings related to the five staff and faculty members who were detained while visiting the country," said the university in a prepared written statement. "We understand that this matter has been resolved and the group has arrived back in the U.S. We are still gathering information and expect to conduct a full debriefing on the matter in the coming days."

The university did not disclose names but local and Russian media identified the delegates as Molly Anderson, head of UB’s leadership and organizational effectiveness center; professor Charles Lindsey; associate professor Mary Ann Rogers; adjunct instructor Courtney Walsh; and Maria Gambino, UB graduate and executive director of Buffalo Spine and Sports Medicine.

University officials say all paid a small fine and left that country on Wednesday.

"At this point, we believe there was a misunderstanding between the UB faculty and staff and the Russian university regarding the purpose of their brief visit to the Russian university," said UB on its website. "UB faculty and staff viewed it as an open discussion but it appears the Russian university interpreted it as a formal lecture."

Officials, according to the university's official statement, were still gathering information Thursday and expected to know more in coming days.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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