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Russian Academy of Sciences’ reform slowed down

July 08, 2013, 10:34 UTC+3

Scientists welcomed a compromise, but they insist on new amendments to the bill to be made in autumn

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A bill reforming the Russian Academy of Sciences remained shelved until autumn. The State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, considered the bill in the second reading including the president’s proposals. Scientists welcomed a compromise, but they insist on new amendments to the bill to be made in autumn.

The amended version of the bill excluded mainly that what raised concerns among the administration of the Russian Academy of Sciences - its status, an opportunity to liquidate the Academy, emergence of a great number of academicians and economic management not subordinated to the Academy, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

The initial version of the bill turned the Russian Academy of Sciences into a public-governmental organization, which academicians contemptuously called a club, the daily wrote. In the second reading the State Duma excluded this provision from the bill. The Russian Academy of Sciences will again get a status of a budget-financed institution, which means its relatively independent financial activity. At the same time an idea of creating a special agency to manage institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences was not rejected. This evident contradiction for this transition period was smoothened by the fact that the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Fortov, will simultaneously chair this new structure, too.

The daily recalled that he had received this proposal from President Vladimir Putin last week and accepted it after several days consideration.

Another initiative of Putin was also approved. It says the yet-to-be agency should appoint directors of institutions with concurrence of the Russian Academy of Sciences and after their candidacies are approved by the personnel affairs commission of the Presidential Council for Science and Education. This means that Fortov’s power will be restricted. However, academicians managed to take out from the bill a provision saying administration and management of the Russian Academy of Sciences would be fully controlled by the government. A provision saying that the Russian Academy of Sciences could be liquidated was also withdrawn, while the norm depriving anyone of an academician status was adjusted and details of this procedure will be fixed in the Academy’s Regulations.

The Academy’s administration managed to defend its idea that all corresponding members of “the big academy” as well as of academies of medical sciences and agriculture automatically become academicians of the reformed Russian Academy of Sciences. Now they will be given the right only three years after the reform to ask about their transition to a higher degree. The General Assembly of the Russian Academy of Sciences will have a final say in compliance with the Regulations.

The Vedomosti business daily believes that the conflict between the Education Ministry and the Russian Academy of Sciences ended with approximately symmetric wins and losses. The ministry lost almost symbolic, but important grounds, as concerns other things it pushed its plan through. But the Russian Academy of Sciences gained the main thing - time. If the bill were signed into law, even in a less tough version, it would be much worse.

The daily noted that there are all grounds to take it back to the second and even first reading without the Constitutional Court and without a new outbreak of indignation bursting from peat-bog fires into wildfire flames. Vedomosti did not rule out that by autumn the public will recover from the shock and gaps of the bill will become even more noticed. September may appear even hotter than this scandalous summer.

And it is not so important that only third, technical reading is left. The third reading of bills that receive many significant notifications often takes them back to the second reading for elaboration and amendments, Novaya Gazeta wrote.

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