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Politics Science

Russian Government Takes Over Country's 289-year Old Scientific Academy 192

ananyo writes "Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved controversial reforms to the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) on 18 September. More than 330 members of the Duma voted in favor of the law, with only 107 against, in a move critics say will deprive the 289-year-old body of its independence and halt attempts to revitalize Russia's struggling science system. If, as is widely expected, the parliament's upper house and Russian President Vladimir Putin approve the law, the 436 institutes and 45,000 research staff of Russia's primary basic-research organization will be managed by a newly established federal agency that reports directly to Putin. The agency will manage the academy's 60-billion-rouble (US$1.9-billion) budget and extensive property portfolio, which includes lucrative sites in Moscow and St Petersburg, and will also have a say in the appointment of institute directors. 'This is not a reform — this is a liquidation of science in Russia,' says Alexander Kuleshov, director of the academy's Institute for Information Transmission Problems in Moscow."
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Russian Government Takes Over Country's 289-year Old Scientific Academy

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  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 19, 2013 @05:55PM (#44897439) Homepage Journal

    in his quest to turn Russia into a theocracy.

  • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:00PM (#44897495)
    Our thoughts are with those folks, this just really sucks...cause it begs the question, how do you turn this around and there's no nice answer to that. Deeper into the dark Putin takes the country.
  • by Raved Thrad ( 1864414 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:00PM (#44897501)

    "NYET! We will no longer allow science to tell us what the laws that govern the universe are! Starting today, it is the law that will govern science!!"

  • Czar Putin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:15PM (#44897617)
    I read this just before I looked at Slashdot

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said he didn't exclude running for a fourth term, in a move that would pave the way for him to remain in power until 2024.

    Wall Street Journal [wsj.com]

    The article states that he's 61 years old, so this is more or less "president for life". If he lasts another 10 years he'll just do it again, or not even bother to hold an election.

    Russia's slide will continue if this happens. Of course the US has a similar problem with entrenched elites wrecking the economy for their own personal gain [chicagotribune.com].

  • Heh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:16PM (#44897623)

    The TFA seems to imply the RAS has been wholly independent for 289 years, which is obviously not the case... It was founded by the tsar who I'd imagine had some sway.

    That and oh... it lived through the soviet union, which certainly had control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:20PM (#44897651)

    I have to ask the obvious question: If everything was perfect till now, why there is no known famous Russian scientist?

    Just because you were taught that all important discoveries were made by citizens of your country doesn't make it true. Go google "famous Russian scientists". On the Wikipedia page you'll find, grep "Nobel prize" and count the number of entries it returns. Then, come back here and apologize for asking an incredibly uninformed question.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:26PM (#44897683)

    Edward Snowden must feel so proud of his newly adopted homeland.

  • Truly a shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:27PM (#44897697)

    This is truly a shame. Back during the Cold War the question was often posed, is Russia the most backward advanced country in the world, or the most advanced backward country in the world. However, despite being cursed with horrid systems of government and an inability to make washing machines, anybody who knew anything admired their accomplishments in science and math. Now Putty Poot wants to kill that? He's a traitor.

  • by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @08:06PM (#44898299)

    Edward Snowden must feel so proud of his newly adopted homeland.

    As if hiding from a blood-thirsty mob in a ditch constitutes an endorsement of ditch-living.

    Snowden's first goal was to expose the NSA. His second is to remain alive and unimprisoned, and sadly his only options for that appear to be oppressive states. That's not an indictment of Snowden, it is an indictment of the so-called "free world."

  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @08:13PM (#44898337)

    What basis do you have to believe that if he is granted asylum in one of those countries, Russia will allow him to leave?

  • by Pav ( 4298 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @09:47PM (#44898797)

    Sooo... because you don't trust your fellow man... you... put your trust in a group of your fellow men self-selected for a career in the spy game? *golf clap* Well played sir. THINK man... spying is separated into different agencies (foreign/domestic) etc... for a reason, and there's a reason those (now subverted) oversight courts exist.

    There's only one thing that makes people put on an approximation of trustworthiness - accountability. Noone is arguing borders should be guarded, but the watchers should be watched. If the guard dog not only slipped its collar but broke the rules badly it should be punished.

  • Re:Rouble? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:02AM (#44899731) Journal

    Historically, the Russian letter "y" - which is equivalent to Latin "u" - was actually spelled as a digraph "oy", up until Peter the Great's alphabet reform of 1708. And the reason why it was spelled that is because Cyrillic alphabet was designed based on Greek, and in Greek the same sound is rendered as "ou" (omicron-upsilon) - so that was mapped as a digraph in Cyrillic, even though East Slavic languages didn't have a sound corresponding to standalone u/y, so it was never a letter in its own right. At some point, they started to write the digraph vertically, with "y" on top in line with other letters on the line, and "o" below it overlapping the tail; and then eventually "o" got dropped, leaving just "y", which is the shape that was codified by Peter in the Civil Script, and remains to this day.

    So the Russian (and before that existed as a distinct language, Old East Slavic) word was indeed properly written as "roubl" up until 1708. And if it found its way into European languages at that time - which is very likely, since the word itself dates back to at least 13th century, and there was healthy trade between East Slavs and the rest of Europe - then this is the spelling from which the Latin transliteration was done.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:19AM (#44899779) Journal

    I'm not saying that everything you wrote is false, but even if every single word of it was true, it still doesn't make the reform good. There's certainly corruption in the Academy, but there's also still plenty of real science being done. With control transferred fully to government bureaucrats, corruption is only bound to increase, and everything immaterial to the goal of enrichment through fraud will be promptly get rid of. What's even worse is that the Church is also raising its head and demanding a say in education and other spheres of life run by the state, and, so far, they have been mostly getting what they want... and now that the state controls scientific institutes directly, I would not put it past them to start stalling or even outright suppressing the lines of research that are contrary to Orthodox doctrine or the prevailing beliefs - evolutionary biology, say, or human cloning.

    So, yes, this will spell the death knell of science in long term, unless a great many other things change.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling