The Russian government sanctioned Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny S. Pritzker ’81 and seven other Harvard affiliates, the country’s ministry of foreign affairs announced in a Friday press release.
In addition to Pritzker, the Russian government sanctioned Corporation member Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuéllar ’93, Economics professor Jason Furman ’92, former Harvard Kennedy School Dean Joseph S. Nye, and four members of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute — Emily Channell-Justice, Volodymyr Dibrova, Lubomyr A. Hajda, and Tymish J. Holowinsky.
The eight Harvard affiliates are among nearly 500 American citizens who were blacklisted from entering Russia by the Russian foreign ministry on Friday. Several former senior American government officials were also sanctioned, including former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch.
A press release published in Russian stated that the sanctions were a “countermeasure” to sanctions imposed by the Biden administration on Russia after the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
Furman, who served as an economic adviser to Obama, said he learned of his inclusion on the list when The Crimson reached out to him for comment on Friday.
“My Ukrainian-born grandfather would be proud,” Furman wrote in a statement.
“I can’t wait to visit Russia again after they have withdrawn from Ukraine and [the] current autocratic regime is no longer in charge,” Furman wrote. “Until then any sanctions on me are irrelevant.”
Pritzker and Cuéllar, who are fellows of the University’s highest governing body, declined to comment through Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain.
Swain also declined to comment on the sanctions on behalf of the University.
Dibrova, a researcher at HURI and a Ukrainian language preceptor, also learned he was sanctioned by the Russian government when The Crimson reached out to him for comment.
Dibrova wrote in an emailed statement on Friday that he was “both surprised and flattered” to find himself in the “company of such worthy Americans.”
“There are several ways to handle this news,” he wrote. “We can joke about it, We can call it an act of insanity. Or we can think about a government for whom a language teacher in a foreign university could be a clear and present danger to their national security.”
Serhii Plokhy, a professor of Ukrainian history and the director of HURI, called the sanctions against four of the institute’s staffers a “bizarre action and a bizarre list.”
“The names of our Harvard colleagues on it remind us once again that Russia wages its war in Ukraine not only against the Ukrainian armed forces but also against Ukrainian history, identity and culture, and people who teach and study them,” Plokhy wrote in an email.
Channell-Justice, director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at HURI, wrote in an email that she is honored to see her name “and the name of the Ukrainian Research Institute recognized at the same level as political leaders like Barack Obama and Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.”
“The Russian Federation has used the tool of personal sanctions to publicly name people whom it considers threatening to the Russian narrative of its genocidal war in Ukraine,” she wrote.
Days after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Channell-Justice spoke at a rally in Harvard Yard in support of Ukraine.
Holowinsky, executive director of HURI, wrote in an emailed statement that it was not “completely surprising” to find himself on the sanctions list.
“Apparently, the Institute’s mission to support scholarly research focusing on topics concerning Ukrainian history, literature, language, and contemporary society is viewed as a threat to Russia's foreign ministry,” Holowinsky wrote.
“I have no response to the Russian government,” he added.
—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mherszenhorn.
—Staff writer Claire Yuan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.