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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
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Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Russia Backs Off Cold War-Style Rules
9 August 2001 7:00 pm
MOSCOW--The Russian Academy of Sciences has quietly rescinded a controversial directive requiring its 55,000 researchers to report their foreign contacts to the RAS governing presidium. The rule, ostensibly to protect Russian intellectual property, has been replaced by one that simply seeks to help institute directors keep tabs on their more Western-oriented researchers. Watchdogs say that the new rule should calm the fears of scientists who saw a return to Soviet-style authoritarianism.
The existence of the directive, stamped "for internal use only," was first divulged in May by a human rights campaigner. The measure would have required researchers at the 357 RAS institutes to file reports on all international grant applications, articles sent for publication abroad, travel to international conferences, and foreign colleagues visiting Russian labs. The requirements prompted some top scientists to speculate that the directive was influenced heavily by the KGB's successor agency, the Federal Security Service (ScienceNOW, 5 June).
In June, a presidium official told RAS institute chiefs at a closed meeting that the directive would be scrapped. That decision was made public last month, as most researchers were headed to their summer dachas. A notice in the academy's weekly newsletter, Poisk, revealed that the internal directive has been superseded by a seemingly benign measure requiring scientists to inform superiors in writing about their foreign activities. The new rule eliminates hot-button language in the original directive, such as a call for Soviet-style "specialist departments" to vet international agreements and place new restrictions on information exchange with foreign countries.
Although the revision may end the controversy, some observers are discouraged by how few scientists bothered to complain about the original directive. Says microbiologist Garry Abelev of the RAS Center for Oncology in Moscow, "I expected that many more people would have protested."