The Russian government has taken further steps to tighten its grip on the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in Moscow. On 23 June, the State Duma—one of the two chambers of the Russian parliament—passed the first draft of a new law that would give President Vladimir Putin the final say in the elections for RAS's presidency.
The bill introduces three main changes. The list of candidates must from now on be approved by the government, and can have not more than three names; a candidate can be elected by winning more than 50% of the vote, instead of the two-thirds needed until now; and the newly elected academy president must be approved by the Russian president.
Elections for a new RAS president were supposed to take place last March but were postponed after all three candidates withdrew for reasons that have not been announced. RAS President Vladimir Fortov stepped down in March, and an acting president, Valery Kozlov, took over.