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Russia imposes new restrictions on scientists' contact with foreign colleagues

Source: Meduza

Russia’s Science and Education Ministry has made it more difficult for scientists to have contact with foreigners, according to reports by Moskovsky Komsomolets and Troitsky Variant. The new regulations apply to all institutions under the ministry’s control, most but not all of which are dedicated to the natural sciences.

The new regulations require all scientific organizations to notify the ministry about any planned meetings with colleagues from abroad and provide the names of all participants. At least two Russian scientists must be present at any meeting with foreigners, and contact with colleagues from abroad outside work hours is only allowed with a supervisor’s permission. After one of these meetings, Russian scientists must now file a formal report that summarizes the conversation and includes copies of all participants’ passports.

Additionally, foreign scientists who visit Russian scientific organizations are now forbidden from using any recording or copying devices, except “in cases stipulated by Russia’s international treaties.” In an open letter to the Science and Education Ministry, Alexander Fradkov, a top official at the Russian Academy of Sciences, called this last measure “especially puzzling,” warning that foreign participants at international conferences will now be forced to surrender watches, mobile phones, and possibly even their ballpoint pens. Fradkov wants Minister Mikhail Kotyukov to rescind the new rules and punish the officials who designed them.

On Facebook, science journalist Irina Yakutenko challenged the very notion that science can be divided into “Russian” and “foreign” science, arguing that these pursuits are “always the fruit of joint efforts.” Yakutenko says the new restrictions mirror limitations on contact with foreigners imposed on Russians during the Soviet era.

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