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Parliament Opposition suggests returning RAS reform bill to 2nd reading

July 10, 2013, 15:40 UTC+3

"Unconditional return of the document to the second reading and finalizing it is the minimum that can be done" First deputy house speaker Ivan Melnikov said

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MOSCOW, July 10 (Itar-Tass) - The leaders of the Opposition factions at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament called for reversing the bill on reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences /RAS/ to the 2nd reading for additional amendments.

First deputy house speaker from the Communist faction Ivan Melnikov said during the Open Tribune session on Wednesday that "there've been too many critical remarks about the draft law. Unconditional return of the document to the second reading and finalizing it is the minimum that can be done," Melnikov said.

He also suggested discussing an alternative to the proposed reform. It envisions the establishment of an agency for science and innovations under the Russian government to perform two basic functions: it will act as state customer in R&D programs and monitor the effectiveness and goal-oriented use of the state assets by research centers, including RAS.

A Just Russia faction leader Sergei Mironov, too, called for extra amendments. "We should return /it/ to the second reading; and, if necessary, change the concept," Mironov said.

He noted that "thanks to RAS and lawmakers' efforts, it was possible to change the unacceptable initial provisions of the draft law: "the threat of RAS liquidation has been eliminated. As to how the reform will go is another question. During the autumn session, it is necessary to continue consolidated discussion of the bill in order to keep succession in a new RAS when implementing the reform."

Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky remarked that "errors, if any, should be corrected." "We supported the 2nd reading of the bill; we'll support the necessary amendments and take into account recommendations," he said.

Zhirinovsky called for stepping up the propaganda of domestic science.

On behalf of the United Russia faction, its deputy chairman Nikolai Bulayev stressed that after the approval of the 2nd reading of the bill it would be reasonable to draw the "road map" to implement the basic guidelines of the reform. He drew attention to the fact that there is a concept of amendments worked out at a meeting between the Russian president and the RAS administration. "These amendments changed the essence of the bill and take into account the opinions of the academic community and lawmakers. We cannot break up the accords. Many positions have been taken into consideration. We are halfway through the financial year. We have to understand: we either enter the new year with the old bill or with the new one, which however, is not finalized," Bulayev stated.

Summing up the discussion, State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin noted that so far, the bill has outlined the framework of the RAS reform. "I ordered the dedicated committee for science and science-intensive technologies to generalize the proposals that can be transformed into amendments to be discussed in parliament in the autumn. The final decision will be made during the autumn session," the speaker said.

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