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On Thursday, Russian researchers took to streets in the centre of Moscow demanding higher investments into the domestic science and changes in the financing rules.
Around 500 scientists and researchers gathered on Moscow’s central Pushkin Square, the RBK daily reported. One of the main slogans chanted was “Let scientists work!” as well as those saying “Increase science financing” and “We want to work in Russia”.
Many young scientists go abroad, as they see no prospects for their research career in Russia. Protesters say there are two main reasons that force them to leave – bureaucracy and financial abuse.
Protesters urged the authorities to increase the financing fund and amend laws. Scientists say in particular, the federal law on state purchases practically blocks the opportunity of spending funds for research and brings not the quality of work, but its price to the forefront.
Although the rally was allowed by the authorities, the chairman of the unions represented at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Viktor Kalinushkin, told the Novye Izvestia daily that no state institution considered it necessary to listen to researchers’ demands. Aside from the unions of the Russian Academy of Sciences the rally brought together representatives of the Council of Young Scientists, initiative groups of scientists, post-graduates and students of Moscow State University as well as members of the Russian students’ union.
“We would like the science to be financed through the system of grants and not through contracts of the Education and Science Ministry,” a representative of the initiative group of young scientists, molecular biologist Sergei Dmitriyev told the daily. “An increase in the financing of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research from 6 billion roubles to 16 billion roubles and of the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation from 1 billion roubles to 2 billion roubles are necessary preconditions for development,” Kalinushkin told the daily.
Another important demand of scientists is the use of the state funds and as a result, amendments to the federal law on state purchases (No. 94). “Amendments to this law should simplify and improve the structure of competition and financing of scientific and research works,” Viktor Kalinushkin said adding the possibility of spending funds bypassing bureaucratic procedures is needed for scientists’ well-coordinated work. “We simply want to work without obstacles put in our path,” he concluded.
The authorities reacted to scientists’ demands very rapidly, the Kommersant business daily reported. “We support scientists. If they won funds through the competition, their activities should not be hindered. They should feel free in attracting contract partners and purchasing materials, etc.,” Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexei Likhachev told the newspaper. Moreover, he added that “a necessary amendment has already been submitted to the government for consideration.” “It may be fast approved through the government’s legislative commission or in theory another variant is possible – support by the State Duma, then it will start working even faster,” he said.