More than 20 leading members of the Russian Academy of Sciences have issued an open letter supporting calls for Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to be stripped of his academic degree because his dissertation "stands outside the realm of scholarship."
The letter, published in the newspaper Kommersant on October 28, also attacks a recent decision to transfer the hearing of the case from the dissertation council of the Urals Federal University to the Higher Attestation Commission (VAK) of the Education Ministry.
The academics say that decision amounted to "unprecedented interference" in the academic-credentials process in Russia.
The nongovernmental organization Dissernet has challenged Medinsky's dissertations, saying that his doctoral dissertation and his two "higher doctoral" dissertations all contain elements of plagiarism.
Earlier this month, the VAK abruptly cancelled a hearing on the matter at the Urals Federal University and took over the case itself in order to prevent "political attacks on public figures."