Russian scientists are raising the alarm about new Soviet-style restrictions on interactions with foreign colleagues.
The science newspaper Troitsky Variant on Tuesday published a copy of a recent Russian Education Ministry decree that introduces a broad range of restrictions on meetings and communication between employees of state-owned think tanks and institutes and foreign nationals.
Russian scientists are now obliged to inform officials about any visit by a foreign scientist five days in advance and report on the meeting afterward, the published decree said. The newspaper called on the ministry to scrap the order, saying the Soviet-style restrictions would hurt the standing of Russian science in the world.
“Such ridiculous decrees that are impossible to comply with will do nothing to bolster our country’s security but will only increase its isolation from developed nations and discredit authorities,” scientist Alexander Fradkov said.
Similar restrictions were widely used in the Soviet Union but were largely scrapped by the end of the 1980s.
The Education Ministry on Wednesday insisted that the decree was not an order but merely a recommendation and denied suggestions that it aims to control the scientists.
It also added that Russian scientists are increasingly facing “certain restrictions” while visiting organizations abroad.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier on Wednesday that he thought that the restrictions were “too much.”
The reports of authorities trying to monitor scientists come amid an intensifying pressure on the scientific community.
Elderly rocket scientist Viktor Kudryavtsev has been in jail for over a year now, facing vague treason charges. His colleague was arrested last month on similar charges. Russian scientists have appealed to authorities to drop the charges against Kudryavtsev and his associate but to no avail.