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Academic community opposes Russian Academy of Sciences draft reform

September 16, 2013, 10:21 UTC+3

The bill is planned to bring back for a second reading

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On Tuesday, the State Duma lower house of Russian parliament should decide whether to bring back a scandalous bill over a reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), which strips the academicians of the powers to manage property, for a second reading to introduce amendments in it. The media recalled that the academic community almost unanimously insisted on bringing back this bill for a second or even first reading. The protests of Russian scientists against the bill over a reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences may resume more actively after a new reading of amendments to the document that contradict their position is made public.

Despite an agreement between the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Russian President Vladimir Putin to leave the institutes under Academy’s management, they will be probably handed over to a state-run official structure - an especially created agency after all, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily noted. If the State Duma approves this reading of the bill, this will mean that all many-month struggle of the Academy for the right to be an independent scientific organization was futile.

The bill is really planned to bring back for a second reading, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. Meanwhile, the amendments, which the presidential administration approved, will be introduced in the bill.

The amendments are catastrophic for the Academy, an informed source of the newspaper close to the Russian Academy of Sciences said. “The State Duma should rubber stamp these amendments,” he said with confidence. “This is a catastrophic throwback against what Fortov and Putin seemed to agree upon and what was voiced at a general meeting of the Academy.”

Fortov strongly opposes the amendments, sources of the newspaper said. “He has been writing a letter (an address) to Russian President Vladimir Putin together with the academic secretary of the Academy for the whole second half of Friday.”

Meanwhile, the most high-tempered members of the academician community have found the way to express their attitude to the government bill back two months ago. They have formed the July 1 club, the participants of which stated that they will not join a new academy, if it is created.

Upon studying the current reading of the bill, RAS President Vladimir Fortov stated that this reading differs from what Putin agreed on, the RBC daily reported. A government agency, which will be created for RAS property management, will be granted too many levers of influence on RAS.

A planned RAS reform may cause a high-profile scandal and create precedent of corporative protest mobilization, the Vedomosti daily said in an editorial article. Despite the agreements between RAS President Vladimir Fortov and Vladimir Putin the document hands over scientific institutions under management of public servants, scientific and managerial qualification of which is questioned.

The scientists assume that at least 25 deputies, who voted for the reform, take revenge for the exposure of plagiarism in their theses, the newspaper noted.

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