Russian Academics Aim to Punish Colleagues for Supporting Ukraine Invasion


Some academic researchers in Russia are working quietly to prevent their colleagues who supported their country’s invasion of Ukraine from being elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences this month.

If they succeed, their supporters of the war will reject a valuable credential that gives prestige to Russian higher education institutions. Their campaigns may also show that some protest action is still possible. despite government pressure on the opposition.

The Russian Academy of Sciences is a network of non-profit research institutes in various disciplines throughout the Russian Federation. Russia has just under 1,900 members and about 450 foreign non-voting members.

The Academy elects new members every three years. The survey, which begins Monday, covers 309 seats, 92 for senior academics and 217 for relevant members. Competition is fierce: more than 1,700 candidates applied.

This month, a group of Russian researchers loop through a list Dozens of candidates who openly supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine supported it by signing pro-war statements or letters published by their universities or institutions, or by making these statements themselves.

Hundreds of high-ranking officials were also involved in Russian universities, most of whom were not leading scientists, but administrators. signed a letter supporting the war in March.

However, many academic researchers took an anti-war stance. More than 8,000 Russian scientists and science journalists signed an agreement. open letter against the occupation Since it was first published in February.

Three academic researchers, whose identity has not been identified because they publicly opposed the war and risked losing their jobs, imprisonment, and safety, said in interviews: They helped build a list of supporters of the war to avoid being elected to the academy.

Members of the leadership of the Russian Academy of Sciences did not respond to a request for comment.

Some voters think the list can make a difference in the election.

“Most of the scientific community is absolutely anti-war,” said Alexander Nozik, a physicist at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, who was not involved in creating the list. “Being on such a list can significantly reduce his chances of being selected.”

Some outside observers say the Russian Academy is not as strong as it used to be.

“It used to be a vast network of research institutes that included the best scientists in the country,” said historian Loren Graham, who specializes in Russian science and holds honorary positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. “These institutes have now been robbed by the Putin government, given to the Ministry of Education, and left the academy as a dignified society with no real weight in science.”

Academy members have also been involved in ethical shortcomings in recent years. In 2020, an appointed commission will review Russian academic journals and research publications. full of plagiarism, self-plagiarism and gift writing, where scholars are listed as co-authors of manuscripts without contributing to the study. As a result of the report, Russian journals withdrew more than 800 research papers that the authors were deemed to have committed ethical violations.

A separate 2020 statement by the same commission in the academy found several rectors and other top university officials guilty of publishing articles in dubious journals, listing false collaborators, and plagiarizing.

Others say such issues undermine the importance of the academy’s upcoming elections.

Dr. “Many people in Russian science still believe that the academy is the oldest structure that can do something – not because it’s good, but because others are worse,” Nozik said.

This is not the first time that the Russian Academy of Sciences has found itself in disagreements over the invasion of Ukraine. Released on March 7 an idiom about the war. Some observers saw this as the closest of any official institution in the country to condemning Russia’s aggression, but critics believed it was not as overtly anti-war as it should have been.

However, the statement addressed the repercussions of the war and how the international response to it would affect Russian science, a concern shared by Russian academics.

“We condemn any attempt to exert political pressure on researchers, teachers, graduate students and students on the basis of nationality or citizenship,” the academy said in a statement.

Some researchers fled Russia as a result of the war. Universities and institutions around the world have allocated positions to academics from Russia and Ukraine under programs such as: Scholars at Risk. Anna Abalkina, a Russian-born sociologist at the Free University of Berlin, said she was aware of some who had moved to her university.

Another problem is deepening. isolation of scientists Remaining in Russia, many of them were banned from participating in certain projects, working with international collaborators and attending certain conferences.

Dr. Albakina said that another factor is the decision of influential international databases, including. Web of Science and ScopusTo stop offering its services in Russia.

“It means the quality of the broadcasts will drop immediately,” he said.

Dr. Nozik added that ultimately the future of Russian science depends on whether President Vladimir V. Putin stays in power.

“I believe it is not possible to do modern science in Russia under the Putin regime,” he said.


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