"The British Academy is deeply concerned about the reform proposals for the Russian Academy of Sciences that the Russian government suddenly put forward to the State Duma on 28 June. The grounds for concern include in particular the lack of consultation with the academic community and the risk that the proposed changes could threaten the autonomy and independence of the Russian Academy of Sciences and various research institutes. Members of the Russian Academy have recognised the need for change, but are concerned that the legislation as proposed is not the right way to achieve it.
"We continue to watch carefully the negotiations over the proposed reform and note that some changes have been introduced at the Bill’s second reading. As a result of widely shared concerns about the Bill, the third reading has been postponed to September.
"We urge that the time between now and the third reading is used for concerted discussion and open consultation with all interested parties within Russia. We support the proposal that the government and the Russian Academy should set up an expert committee of respected academics and give it at least 12 months to plan a transition.
"A fundamental principle that should be reflected in an eventual settlement is the independence of the Academy and research institutes in such basic matters as the election of Academicians and the detailed management of research. It is worth taking a little extra time to get this reform right in order to give the Russian research community the best chance of promoting research of excellent quality, of safeguarding its reputation and effectiveness, and of developing its role as a valued international partner."
Professor Sir Adam Roberts
President of The British Academy
10 July 2013