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MOSCOW, September 23 (Itar-Tass) - The Committee on Education, Science, Culture and Information Policy of the Federation Council upper house of Russia’s parliament at its meeting on Monday recommended the house to approve the federal law on reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).
The committee members voted simultaneously for two decisions - to approve the conclusion of this law and to recommend to the Federation Council to approve it at a plenary meeting. One FC member - corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Arnold Tulokhonov, abstained during the vote. He asked to return the law for refinement with the creation of a conciliation commission. “Such a raw law cannot be submitted to the president for signature,” he stressed.
After that the FC committee members unanimously adopted a proposal to the Russian government to establish a working group to develop the regulation on a new federal body of executive authority, which will manage the property of a unified Academy of Sciences. The committee recommended proposing to the government to include in the working group representatives of the Federation Council, State Duma and the Russian Academy of Sciences. This proposal was supported by the Russian government’s representative in the Federation Council Andrei Yatskin, who said that on Monday morning he had discussed this issue with Russia’s Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov.
Taking the foot at the meeting, first deputy chairman of the committee Viktor Kosourov stressed that the passage of the law on RAS reform through parliament was very difficult, many amendments were introduced to the documents, including those developed with the participation of the FC members. “Any mention of RAS liquidation was excluded from the text and the article on succession was added,” he said, emphasising the important role of the changes achieved with the help of the Federation Council members. Another important improvement, in his opinion, is that the rights of the regional RAS offices have been defended.
However, Kosourov added, the work on the law was not over yet. “Scientific management of research institutions and their transfer to the jurisdiction of the federal body of executive authority remains one of the most important issued. The RAS requested to more clearly specify it in a separate article,” the FC member said. He expressed the hope that by means of the establishment of a working group composed of members of parliament and representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences “it will be possible to reach a consensus and a balance of interests” in one of the most contentious issues - the administration of the Academy’s property. Kosourov also stressed: “RAS does not object to the fundamental question to transfer the economic functions to a federal body of executive authority.”
“Any reform is very painful,” head of the committee Zinaida Dragunkina stressed for her part. “Over many years, we have finally come close to the reform of this very important structure.” “We cannot say that the law is perfect, but chosen path is right,” she added.
Dragunkina said she had discussed the reform issues with the colleagues, including vice speaker of the State Duma Lyudmila Shevtsova, as well as held a meeting with the leadership of the RAS trade union. “The unionists did not want to hear us under any circumstances,” said Dragunkina, “and only by the evening they agreed to join in the work on the preparation of the regulation on the federal body of executive authority.”
The bill on RAS reform was passed by the State Duma lower house of parliament in the second and third reading on September 18. The decision was supported by 331 MPs (the required number of votes was 226), 107 voted against and one MP abstained. The document determines the main powers of the RAS, as well as establishes the procedure of management and financial support of its activities. It stipulates that the RAS is a publicly funded national institution, and the Russian government shall perform the functions of the organizer and owner of the RAS property. The document also provides for the unification of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.