Medvedev Talks Science in Moscow

Russian science has been getting some bad press recently, what with a recent report on its declining productivity in scientific papers and a letter from expatriate scientists to the Russian president and prime minister warning of the parlous state of basic research. But there were some reasons to be hopeful in a speech delivered yesterday by President Dmitry Medvedev on the occasion of Russian Science Day while handing out prizes to young researchers.

Medvedev made a pledge to provide housing for all young scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences' (RAS) institutes. The country has, he said, been engaged in an effort to provide housing for all military service personnel, a project that will be completed this year. Medvedev says the government will draft an agreement with the RAS to provide young researchers with housing by 1 May. He didn't mention a completion date for this task.

And although expressed in the most general terms, there were indications in the president's speech that his leadership is beginning to recognize the importance of science:

We admit we are still only at the start of the road towards rebuilding our science and moving to a new quality of regulation in this sector. No matter how much pride we take in the USSR’s achievements, we all know full well, especially the older generation, that these advances were made in conditions that, while presenting certain advantages, also had some serious shortcomings. We live in a different world now. The country has changed, the economy has changed, and the world has changed too. Our task therefore is not to recreate a copy of the Soviet system for managing science, but to create a system for the scientific Russia today, a system of incentives and support, regulation, and legal protection for intellectual property, based on international standards. We therefore must set up a brand new system of our own.