Russia's Justice Ministry announces that it must inspect new limits on international scholarly communication before the limits can take effect
Earlier this week, news emerged that Russia’s Science and Education Ministry had sent its subordinate institutions a list of new “recommendations” limiting contact with researchers and institutions from outside Russia. The regulations required, among other things, that all personal contact with foreign scholars be summarized in written reports and that all “recording devices” be confiscated from foreign researchers before they enter Russian academic facilities.
The ministry’s order spurred immediate backlash from scientists and the Kremlin, and Russia’s Justice Ministry has now indicated that the order has no legal authority and will not take effect until it undergoes a legal inspection. Justice Ministry representatives told RBC that “A request for the act in question to be presented to the Justice Ministry for the purpose of conducting a legal inspection has been directed to the Science and Education Ministry,” and attorney Andrey Zelenin confirmed to RBC that this means the order cannot be enforced until such an inspection is complete. Zelenin is a managing partner in the law firm Lidings.
Because the Science and Education Ministry’s order is an executive recommendation and not a legislative proposal, it does not require approval from the State Duma. For that reason, initial reports on the guidelines assumed that the ministry would be able to control the order’s enforcement independently. Justice Ministry officials clarified that their agency must examine and register the order before it can be enforced because the guidelines fall into the legal category of interagency executive acts that affect the rights and liberties of Russian citizens. The Science and Education Ministry did not submit the order to the Justice Ministry on its own initiative, leading the latter to make a special request.