No reforms in secrecy!


castle-wine-cellar-007Just arrived home after the WCSJ in Helsinki and got a hot, very hot Moscow. Not just because of unusual whether: meteorologists say that the air temperature is higher than ever in last 100 years. But it is too hot also because of the news appeared the very last days. It seems the session of totalitarian countries EUSJA had in Helsinki arrived home with me! As if somebody heard what I was saying and decided to give an example how it worked in a country with a totalitarian past.

I was saying that on the one hand we hear from our officials about the importance of science and education, but on the other hand there are a lot of steps to humble the role of scientists and science. Here it is: the government has worked up the bill which will actually destroy Russian academy of sciences. It was presented as “important reform”, but the document has been done in a big secrecy, without any discussion with scientists, science institutes, academy of sciences, science journalists. The bill was a big surprise even for the public committee of reforms has been created by scientists under the Ministry of education and science last spring.

Nobody doubts that the science institutions need reforms. But the matter concerns hundreds of science institutes and thousands scientists, these reforms must be discussed if the country considers itself to be belonged to democracy. This kind of changes cannot be worked up with a small group of officials from the Ministry of education and science who actually pretend to be a privileged instruction who can dictate its rules to thousands of people. It is remarkable that Russian academy of sciences just had its annual session in the end of May and a new president of academy was elected – well known scientist, academician Vladimir Fortov. He too was not aware about the new bill and got it as a surprise these days.

The officials found a good time for the bill: it is summer, many scientists left for holidays, and there are last days before the holidays also for Russian parliament who will no doubt vote for the bill next week (beginning of July) and leave for its vacation.

Special meetings of Russian scientists will be organized in many science institutes next week. Russian scientists protest. They turn to science journalists to speak about the situation loudly, scientists insist: the reforms must be discussed with the science institutes and the academy, with the universities. They say: if the actual bill will be approved, this will destroy Russian science. In a public letter from the Siberian branch of Russian academy of sciences is written: “The question for Russian science is to be or not to be” (see http://www.copah.info/articles/sciencestruct/k-nauchnoi-obshchestvennosti-rossii).

Scientists say: no reforms in secrecy, the important changes must be discussed with science institutes, with scientists.

About Viola Egikova

Viola Egikova - science journalist based in Moscow, president of Intellect, former Vice-President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations, Programme Coordinator of All Russia Science Festival