To Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin,
The President of Russian Federation
Dear Mr. President, With great concern the world scientific community received the news about the planned consideration by State Duma of a New Federal Law addressing Russian Science and the Russian Academy of Sciences RAS.
We agree that science and the way it is done constantly needs reviews to maintain creativity and quality in competition. This genuine scientific approach is reflected in ongoing discussions about science in Russia. This new Law will most likely lead, though, to the end of the era of the Russian Academy of Sciences, will abolish its independency and will therefore lead to very critical consequences for Russian Science. Prepared by the Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation with no consultation with the Russian national scientific community or its peers, this law will definitely destroy the cornerstone of Russian science, end its leading position in many research areas and will put Russian science onto a path of an unknown and unpredictable future. Any innovations in the conservative academic system of the western world are being conducted very carefully and in a broad agreement with scientific community. This is very much in contrast with what is currently happening in Russia. Our contacts with members of the Russian Academy show that they feel themselves deeply offended by the proposition of the Minister to increase academic salaries; the community considers this to be an insolent graft. They work for providing excellent science and not for solely monetary reasons. This Law will be a disaster for Russian science, and also for the international scientific community which closely collaborates with Russian scientists in many areas creating new insights, knowledge and achievements. This is at the heart of the international cross-border nature of science.
The Russian Academy was established 300 years ago and its history is associated with a great number of accomplishments which has revolutionarily improved our knowledge, resulting in ground breaking achievements in practically all areas of science: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, colocation étudiante and social sciences. The Russian Academy has since its foundation been well recognized and is a unique structure in the World. It has been developing and organizing World class research as a fully independent self-governed institution. In the difficult times of the 1990s and early 2000s this independence and self-governance allowed the Russian Academy to survive and to maintain its momentum. It evidently started to grow again during the last years. Without doubt the Russian Academy needs changes and is changing. We already see developing new scientific topics, changes in organizing science to foster new structures required to develop and maintain top-level research and efforts to publish their results openly. Russian Academy of Sciences is the most efficient scientific organization in Russia. It provides the major fraction of top scientific publications in Russia and conducts research at the modern level along with very few Russian Universities.
We ask you, Mr. President, to use all your power to moderate the conflict between the Russian Government and the Russian Academy and to put the reform of Russian Science including reasonable and timely changes of the Russian Academy in the framework of detailed and productive consultations with the Academic community. The community was and is ready to contribute to developing the structure of RAS to keep its for-most position in the 21st century.
We thank you in advance for consideration and your understanding of this outstanding issue.