- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Rules Resurrect Cold War-Era Distrust
5 June 2001 7:00 pm
MOSCOW--Is it a benign measure to prevent Russian scientists from unwittingly revealing state secrets, or a chilling return to Soviet-style authoritarianism? Debate is swirling over a sweeping directive issued last week by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) that requires its 55,000 researchers to report any international activities and contacts to the academy's governing presidium.
The directive, stamped "for internal use only," calls for "strengthening controls on articles being prepared and the exchange of information with foreign countries." News of the directive was first divulged on Echo Moskvy radio by human rights campaigner Sergey Kovalyov. He reported that the directive requires researchers at the 357 RAS institutes to file reports on all international grant applications, articles sent for publication abroad, travel to international conferences, and the activities of foreign colleagues who visit Russian labs.
It is unclear how institutes will implement the directive, how the presidium plans to use the information, or in what instances foreign activities will be reported to the KGB's successor agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB). The undefined scope of the FSB's involvement worries researchers, especially in the wake of several high-profile cases in which the FSB relied on an ambiguous reading of what constitutes a state secret to accuse Russian researchers and an American technology specialist of spying (Science, 10 March 2000, and ScienceNOW, 13 December 2000).
RAS scientific secretary Nikolai Plate responds that the directive's aim is solely to remind scientists to guard intellectual property. "There are no attempts to restrict the freedom of Russian scientists to contact scientists from other countries," he says.
Most scientists are warily watching how institutes interpret the directive, which is supposed to be implemented this month, and how aggressively it's enforced. "It might be a completely harmless document," Alexandr Berlin, director of the RAS Institute of Chemical Physics in Moscow, says hopefully. Then again, he notes, "it might be something much more serious."