Russian officials say new restrictions on scientists contacting foreign colleagues are only ‘recommendations’
Early in the day on August 14, reports emerged that Russia’s Science and Education Ministry had issued an order establishing strict reporting requirements for foreign visitors at the Ministry’s subordinate institutions, which center on the natural sciences but include other fields as well. The new order also regulates meetings between Russian scholars and their foreign colleagues, requiring the latter to surrender any “recording or copying devices,” among other restrictions.
After news of the regulations emerged, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said they “seem like overkill.” He warned that “foreign intelligence agencies never sleep, of course” and added that “nobody has canceled scientific and industrial espionage.” Nonetheless, Peskov argued, “that doesn’t mean that we should chain ourselves to a bunch of regulations that ultimately won’t lead to anything good.”
Representatives for the Science and Education Ministry told the wire agency TASS soon afterward that the regulations were in fact only “recommendations” that are “directed primarily toward tracking the growth of our international ties.” The Ministry added, “This order is in no way intended to impose control over the organizations subordinate to the Science and Education Ministry,” though it also argued that Russian scientists “do encounter certain limits and heightened control” when they visit institutions abroad.