Money No Remedy for Russia’s Scientific Decline [The Washington Post]


Although Russia has tripled its spending on scientific research in the past 10 years as it seeks to make up for the collapse of the 1990s, “innovation is losing out to exhaustion, corruption and cronyism,” reports Will Englund of The Washington Post.

Under Soviet rule, science had prestige and strong support, which resulted in the first satellite and then the first man in space. But two decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, many young Russian scientists are looking to escape the low pay and poor facilities of the government science program, which is “shot through with back-scratching and favoritism,” Englund writes. The United States could feel the effects as it depends on Russian rockets to carry astronauts to the international space station.

“In 20 years, all the positive things that existed in Soviet times have been destroyed, and replaced by nothing,” said Natalia Desherevskaya, a biologist at Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms in Pushchino.

Despite the increase in spending, Russia’s share of articles published in international scientific journals has fallen by 30 percent since 1998, and the number of people working in research and development dropped from more than 1.1 million in 1994 to 761,000 in 2008.