Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)

The RAS consists of the national academy of Russia; a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation; and additional scientific and social units such as libraries, publishing units, and hospitals.

There are three types of membership in the RAS: full members (academicians), corresponding members, and foreign members. Academicians and corresponding members must be citizens of the Russian Federation when elected. However, some academicians and corresponding members were elected before the collapse of the USSR and are now citizens of other countries. Members of RAS are elected based on their scientific contributions – election to membership is considered very prestigious. In the years 2005–2012, the academy had approximately 500 full and 700 corresponding members. But in 2013, after the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences became incorporated into the RAS, a number of the RAS members accordingly increased. As of November 2016, after the last elections, there were 944 full members and 1159 corresponding members in the renewed Russian Academy of Sciences. Earlier, in winter 2015/2016, the Academy assigned the so-called RAS Professors (493 scientists), subordinated to the regular members and considered as possible future candidates for membership; 104 professors were elected already in autumn 2016 and will henceforth be titled as “RAS professor, corresponding member of the RAS”.


On June 28, 2013, the Russian Government unexpectedly announced a draft law of dissolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) founded in 1724

And establishing a new “public-governmental” organization with the same name. During this reform, all buildings and other property of the Academy will be taken away under control of a government-appointed official. The reform is allegedly authored by Mikhail Kovalchuk, brother of Yury Kovalchuk, known as Vladimir Putin’s personal banker. Mikhail Kovalchuk was repeatedly rejected during elections to the Academy. Simultaneously, a new law regulating the status of the new organization was submitted for approval by the Russian Duma (the Parliament of the Russian Federation) and was submitted for approval the following week. After the acceptance of this law, a liquidation process of the Academy should be completed within three months.
The law puts severe restrictions on the autonomy of academic institutions in Russia and deprives RAS of the control over all of its material assets. All the existing institutions of RAS are offered to move away from the new organization, to subordinate them to a special administrative Government agency, “Agency of Scientific Institutions”, and to subject them to a selection compliant with certain conditions defined solely by this agency. The functions of this agency are not well-specified in the law.
The draft law, which fundamentally changes the system of science organization in Russia, has been prepared and examined without discussion within the scientific community. Even the public structures created by the Ministry of Education and Science for consultations with the representatives of the scientific community have not been involved in a discussion of the draft law and have not been informed on its existence. The Academy has also not been informed on the existence of the project.
This piece of legislation, accompanied by the unusual haste with which it was announced and put through the first stage of approval (described by some as “Blitzkrieg”), created a considerable worry in the academic community and a strong rejection by many leading Russian and foreign scientists.



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