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Russian Academy Of Sciences Calls On Ministry To Unmuzzle Scholars


The Russian Academy of Sciences' headquarters in Moscow (file photo)

MOSCOW -- The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) has urged the Ministry of Education to cancel its order barring scientists and scholars from communicating with foreigners.

The RAN's general assembly, consisting of some 2,000 scientists, on November 15 adopted a resolution calling on the ministry to cancel the order, which bans Russian scientists and scholars from being alone with a foreigner in one room, obliges them to obtain preliminary government approval for foreigners to visit RAN, and limits the use of mobile phones, cameras, and binoculars inside Russia's scientific entities.

"The general assembly’s participants believe that the free exchange of scientific ideas is a necessary condition for the development of science. The laws of the Russian Federation already impose enough restrictions on experts working on classified topics. Additional limitations under deliberate reasons are unacceptable," the resolution, approved by 2,000 members of the assembly, says.

The general assembly also condemned how police recently searched a physics institute and its director in an alleged optical-elements smuggling case.

RAN's resolution says the searches of the Lebedev Institute of Physics (FIAN) and the home of its director, Nikolai Kolachevsky, in late October were conducted in an "inappropriate" way.

"The appearance of armed men in Russia's leading scientific institute cannot be justified by investigative operations. Such operations damaged the reputation of both the FIAN and law enforcement. Members of the RAN's general assembly call for zero tolerance of such kind of operations," the resolution.

The searches were conducted on October 30 and sparked a public outcry.

Investigators said at the time that the searches were linked to a probe launched into the activities of the company Trioptics, which rented offices in FIAN's premises.

The company is suspected of being involved in the attempted illegal transfer of two optical windows for meteorological stations to Germany.

Kolachevsky was summoned for questioning after the October 30 searches and ordered not leave Moscow while investigations were being carried out.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax