Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Russian Scientists Rally to Protest Funding Freeze

Hundreds of scientists, many in lab coats, rallied in Moscow’s Pushkin Square 13 October to protest a funding freeze at Russia’s two grant organizations and on procurement regulations that they call major obstacles to research. The rally was organized by the trade union of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the Young Scientists Council, together with associations of Moscow State University students, and young scientists.
The Russian government recently froze the budgets for Russia’s two funding agencies, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Russian Foundation for Humanities (RFH), leaving only $200 million for both agencies. Protestors urged the government to restore the old rule, under which RFBR received 6% of the overall budget for civilian science and RFH 1%. The protestors also demanded radical reform of laws governing public procurement, which severely limit grantees’ freedom to spend the money as they see fit.
“This rally is a warning,” says Evgeny Onishchenko of the RAS Institute of Physics, one of the organizers. “We want to make it clear that if nothing is done to meet our demands, there will be much more serious rallies of scientists all over the country.



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