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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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  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GODISNOWHERE ( 2741453 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:05PM (#44897535)

    They probably noticed that scientists can do things like prove [pnas.org] that Russian elections are rigged.

  • In Soviet Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @06:34PM (#44897741)

    In Soviet Russia... this academy had more freedom than it does now.


  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @07:05PM (#44897927) Homepage

    I believe his point was that there those who argue that governments should have bigger stakes in certain endeavors like NASA in the US, but everyone here seems to be lamenting that this is the end of science because the state is taking full control of this program - which being russia I'm assuming was fully government funded before anyway, just more autonomous from direction by the duma.

    The Russian Academy of Sciences has had moderate autonomy in terms of spending. They've never been funded to a level commensurate with perceived need (sound familiar?) but they had quite a bit of leeway in terms of funding individual projects. That has never been completely true, of course - the military has often worked through the Academy on projects they're interested in (and funded). The Politburo has had significant input into how various fields are funded. What appears to be the issue is that the Institute Directors will be potentially political appointees, responsible to His Glorious Putiness. We may be seeing many more studies on wrestling and tigers.

  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Thursday September 19, 2013 @09:40PM (#44898771) Homepage Journal

    Is this whole damn planet just gonna get stupid now? This is not at all what they showed us in Star Trek. Damn, 40 years ago we are putting people on the moon, now it's just global navel gazing from here on out. Yeee haaawww.

    Fuck, we are screwed.

  • Re:Heh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:15AM (#44899773) Journal

    Even so, historically, it was surprisingly independent even at worst time. E.g. under Stalin, there were many things that Kapitsa said to him that no-one else dared - and got away with it.

    It also had one interesting quirk: the academic titles that it awarded could not be stripped by anyone else - and every government to date has respected this, and didn't pressure the Academy to strip the title even when a particular person was persecuted for his political beliefs. It is said that Stalin joked at some point that you can execute an academician with a stroke of the pen, but he would still die as one.

  • Re:Czar Putin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:46AM (#44899883) Homepage

    One can do oil upsliding without Putin just as well.

    You are forgetting the oligarchs. Do you think any money would be spent on social needs or on defense or on reserves or on external debt or on stimulating the economy? Yeltsin's years are a good illustration of that situation: none of the above was done; all the money was taken by oligarchs, and the people were left to fend for themselves as they may.

    I won't say that Putin is flawlessly doing all that; however he is doing better than Yeltsin. Oligarchs know their place. Perhaps someone else would do it also pretty good; but the theory of probabilities is against you. If the incumbent is doing something at a good enough level, the newcomer has to explain why he, an untested politician, will do better - and how is he going to guarantee that. Russia is the origin of the game of Russian Roulette, but despite that not every voter is interested in a chance to buy a small incremental improvement if, if things go south, he can equally likely buy himself a large problem. In essence, Putin is "good enough" for most voters; a devil that you know. The only exception is voters who want "their man" in power, or who are simply thinking that people at the top should change every other week. They, poor souls, have no clue what they are asking for. There are people like that in every society. Hell, half of the USA is always against the sitting President, no matter if he is R or D. So what?

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll