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Putin calls to create powerful international research centers in Russia

The president also believes that Russia needs to form strong international research teams

NOVOSIBIRSK, February 8. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for expanding scientific cooperation with other countries and establishing powerful international research centers in Russia.

"Of course, we were actively involved in preparations to set up these [international scientific] centers. We are currently working there, and working successfully," he said at a meeting of the Council for Science and Education. "However, we need to establish such centers of our own."

The president recalled the proposal to establish one of such centers in Novosibirsk. "I believe that’s the right idea," he stressed. "We will be sure to think about this and implement this project."

Putin added that Russia is involved in a number of international science projects, in particular, in the work of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, a thermonuclear reactor in France and a free-electron laser in Germany. According to the president, Russia as a participant in these projects has the right to use their results. "We must think how to use them [these results] effectively for the benefit of the development of the country, its economy and social sphere," he stressed.

The head of state pointed to the task of supporting young gifted scientists. "All those who show successful results should have an opportunity to build a research career, implement large-scale scientific projects, have a long-term horizon for planning their activities," he pointed out. "The most important thing is that the path to science should begin for young people during their school years."

International research teams 

Russia needs to form strong international research teams, boost scientific cooperation with other countries and increase the openness of national science, Putin said. 

"We need to continue boosting cooperation with other countries and increase the openness of our science," the president said.

Putin pointed out that the mega-grant program (which particularly involved Russian researchers returning from abroad) was being effectively implemented. "We need to offer tools that will make it possible to attract prominent researchers to head laboratories and also form strong international research teams here in Russia," the president stressed. According to him, participants in the mega-grant program "have been putting forward projects of this kind." Putin added that those were "very good initiatives, they have received almost all of the necessary funding so there is only a need to arrange these activities in a competent manner."

"Both eminent scientists and young researchers need to see that it is interesting to work in Russia as ambitious goals are being set here, which are in line with the challenges of the time, and conditions have been created for reaching these goals, making breakthrough achievements and solving the tasks that our country has been facing," Putin stated.

Countering brain drain

The state will not keep gifted young scientists who want to work abroad ‘on a leash’, but will create an atmosphere encouraging them to remain and work for the benefit of Russian science. Despite all current difficulties, Russian science continues to be and will be part of the global scientific community, Putin said.

During the conversation, future scientists raised the issue of the so-called brain drain. They noted that some of their peers are thinking about leaving the country to pursue an academic career abroad.

"Of course, we think about that all the time and we want gifted promising specialists to stay in our country. However, we will not keep them ‘on a leash’, that’s impossible and wrong. Every person has the right to choose his or her place and occupation to one’s liking in today’s world," Putin emphasized.

He recalled that funding for the scientific field had more than tripled over the past few years. However, it is not the figures that matter so much, but the fact that the state is trying to create conditions for the development of science, Putin noted. He recalled in particular the system of mega-grants.

"We will continue to create these conditions, we are interested in that," the president assured.

Build-up of research infrastructure

Putin deems it crucial to continue cultivating Russia’s own research infrastructure.

"We should carry on with developing research facilities including the mega-science projects," the Russian leader said.

President Putin emphasized that it is extremely vital for strengthening global competitiveness and for making Russian science the top world leader.

The Russian head of state noted that mega-science projects have already been launched in Gatchina, Dubna, Troitsk, Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk.

"This sort of infrastructure should become the basis for large-scale research programs, and the center of scientific cooperation for the entire Eurasian space," Putin stressed.

Creation of particle accelerator in Russia

Putin threw his support behind the idea of creating a powerful research machine worth 40 billion rubles ($690 million) in Russia to study the structure of substances on a nanometer scale.

"The timeframe you mentioned is quite visible and understandable and the cost is also acceptable," Putin said.

"All that can be done. So, you should start preparing the proposal. I do not want to say that this will happen right tomorrow but this issue should not be delayed either. Do this right now. We will try to organize this work for making the relevant decisions as soon as possible so that we can really switch from talks to the project’s implementation," the Russian leader said.

Putin agreed with the meeting’s participants that the accelerator’s creation would attract young researchers.

"As regards big projects, we need large-scale undertakings in the country as a whole. They normally unite and mobilize and become engines for moving forward," Putin said.