"Return the authority": the new president of the Academy of Sciences is preparing for the reforms

"Return the authority": the new president of the Academy of Sciences is preparing for the reforms
"Return the authority": the new president of the Academy of Sciences is preparing for the reforms
21 September, 03:05Science
Gennady Krasnikov was elected the new president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who is going to restore the RAS to its former authority and influence.

According to experts, Krasnikov accepted the new "economy" at a time when the RAS is at the lowest point of its development over the past 100 years, and its future is not encouraging.

Irina Mishina

Science detective

The election of Krasnikov was preceded by an almost detective story. It began with the fact that Alexander Sergeev, who had headed the Academy of Sciences since 2017, withdrew his candidacy from the elections. In fact, he admitted that he was forced into it. It is interesting to recall that academic structures previously associated with Sergeyev have repeatedly criticized the actions of the authorities. On February 24, more than 200 Russian academics and scientists wrote an open letter to the authorities demanding that the special operation be stopped. Sergeev himself did not sign this letter. He did not speak publicly for or against the special operation. Sergeev also opposed the termination of scientific cooperation with other countries due to sanctions and warned about the outflow of scientists due to a special operation. The situation in the Russian Academy of Sciences, apparently, began to cause concern in the Kremlin.

And on the voting day, our editors received an open letter from the 1st of July Club, an informal community of academicians and corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Some of the academicians, in fact, called for a boycott of participation in the general meeting dedicated to the election of the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

At first glance, the Kremlin distanced itself from the election of the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Like, "let them choose who they see fit". However, choosing between Krasnikov and the second candidate, Markovich, many academicians argued quite pragmatically. “There is no particular difference in the programs of candidates. The whole difference may lie in which entrance of the presidential administration this or that candidate will enter”, - said academician Sergei Stishov.

But there are other versions. Some telegram channels, referring to insider information, write that Gennady Krasnikov was helped by intrigues arranged by the oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov and "Vladimir Putin's favorite physicist" Mikhail Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk and Yevtushenkov lobbied for Krasnikov's election. Before the start of the voting, the academicians even seemed to be going to spite everyone to elect a conditionally technical candidate, physicist Dmitry Markovich. But the plan failed for some reason.

This whole story is painfully reminiscent of the previous elections of the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Then Kovalchuk went through the presidential administration in the same way and contributed to the removal from the election of the then president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Vladimir Fortov. Before the elections, Fortov met with the president and later also recused himself. They say that at that time Kovalchuk moved the chairman of the RFBR, Vladislav Panchenko, to the top, but Sergeyev and independent voting won. Krasnikov, by the way, also put himself up in those elections as a spoiler at the request of Kovalchuk.

Experts believe that precisely because of the victory of the candidate of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who was not coordinated with the Kremlin, represented by the former president of the Academy of Sciences Sergeyev, the Russian Academy of Sciences remained a deeply underfunded structure. The Kremlin and the government do not like independents, so they left the academy on a starvation diet. The current president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, apparently, is more "handshake" in the Kremlin. Therefore, change is quite likely. However, one should not forget: in the corridors of power, many sincerely consider the RAS an atavism of the era.

Президент Академии наук Геннадий Красников. Фото: nakanune.ru

Convincing victory and mixed opinions

But the elections still took place. A 64-year-old Gennady Krasnikov, a Soviet and Russian scientist in the field of semiconductor physics, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, academician-secretary of the department of nonotechnology and information technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doctor of technical sciences, professor, won a convincing victory in them. 871 votes were cast for him, 379 voted against. 397 people voted for his opponent Academician Markovich.

Gennady Krasnikov did not create the atomic bomb, he did not invent submarines that inspire horror in the West or new spacecraft. But without him, all this would not be stuffed today with electronics independent of the West. It is known that the authorities are ready to return to the RAS the key research institutes taken away from the academy in the course of a very controversial reform of domestic science.

However, the reaction to the changes in the leadership of the RAS turned out to be ambiguous.

Alexey Semenov, head. Chair of the Theory of Algorithms of the Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow State University, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “I think that the main question that was discussed in general at the general meeting is to what extent this or that position of the Academy, regardless of its scientific validity, will be heard by leaders of one level or another”.

Vladimir Sukhomlin, professor, doctor of technical sciences, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “Changes in the Russian Academy of Sciences are overdue. To be honest, there hasn't been any spectacular activity lately. Yes, Moscow State University is participating in the artificial intelligence program, which was initiated, among other things, by the Russian Academy of Sciences. And so basically in recent years I made reports. From the Russian Academy of Sciences received periodically 5 thousand per month. It is difficult to determine exactly the functionality of the Russian Academy of Sciences now”.

Evgeny Kablov, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “If you read the transcript dated April 7 this year, when Mishustin spoke at the plenary session of the State Duma, he named real examples of what the government is doing in terms of tax benefits, in terms of helping scientists and scientific youth get apartments. But at the same time, he said: we would like to ask, what is the impact of the Academy of Sciences on these actions of the government? The Chairman of the Duma says: President of the Academy of Sciences Sergeev is present, he can come out and answer our questions. But Sergeyev did not come out. It's not clear to me..."

The doors of world science are closing

Gennady Krasnikov accepted the Academy of Sciences at a difficult time, when under the conditions of sanctions, Russian scientists will have to create their own developments, primarily in electronics. The question of interaction with the rest of the scientific world also remains open. Russian scientists began to be denied the publication of articles in some foreign journals. Some of the international scientific events that were planned to be held in the Russian Federation are postponed or canceled. This is how foreign scientists reacted to Russia's special operation in Ukraine. Russian scientists began to face difficulties in cooperation with foreign organizations. For example, Vadim Bataev, a leading researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Spectroscopy of the Faculty of Chemistry of Moscow State University, was faced with the refusal to publish an article in the international Journal of Molecular Structure. “The editorial board of the journal has decided to ban manuscripts received from Russian institutions”, - scientific sources cite a response letter to the Russian scientist.

If this continues, then, probably, “there will soon be an opportunity to publish only in Asian or domestic journals”, - commented Yury Dobrovolsky, head of the Competence Center of the National Technology Initiative “New and Mobile Energy Sources” at the Institute for Problems of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Chernogolovka. At the same time, "publication activity" is the basis for assessing the effectiveness of the scientific activity of Russian scientists, he noted. Ultimately, this may affect the rankings of Russian universities.

"President of every academic"

At a press conference, the new president of the Academy of Sciences did not deny the difficulties. “I have a strong feeling that we continue to lose our credibility. We have left the state decision-making system. But after the February events, the situation in Russia was fundamentally different. A window of new opportunities has opened for the Academy. If earlier the problems of science were treated calmly, because we could buy everything, now it has become clear that only science can solve a whole range of problems. Attitudes towards science are changing, and serious attention is being paid to the potential of our institutions”, - said Gennady Krasnikov.

First of all, the new President of the Russian Academy of Sciences hopes to restore the authority of the Academy and “to make sure that the Russian Academy of Sciences actively cooperates with the state authorities. Moreover, this interaction should be close”.

Krasnikov also considers it a top priority to provide social and legal support to the members of the Academy. Honored scientists, according to the academician, should be treated accordingly at various levels. The scientific and methodological management of the institutes of the RAS, in the opinion of the new president of the Academy of Sciences, should also be expanded, and many institutes should be returned to the wing of the RAS.

“It is necessary to interact more actively with industry representatives. Implement research results in the real sector of the economy. Science is applied. The only difference is that some applications appear in five to ten years, while others appear in fifty to a hundred”, - says Gennady Krasnikov.

Addressing the academicians, Krasnikov said: “I would like to become president of each of you. I will start the program from tomorrow".

At the same time, on the sidelines today, academicians discussed the prospect of transferring the RAS from state to public status immediately after the celebration of its tercentenary. Probably, the fate of the RAS will now largely depend on two reasons: firstly, on how serious the contribution of the RAS will be to import substitution and Russia's independence in terms of scientific developments. And secondly, how much the new president of the Russian Academy of Sciences will be "accepted" in the corridors of power. Considering that his candidacy was lobbied in the presidential administration, funding will probably be found. But will this make science better?

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