‘No interference’ in appointment of Russian Academy head

Alexander Sergeev, who has been appointed the next president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has said there was “no pressure from government” in the election process. 

At a conference following his appointment on 26 September, Sergeev said that that the academy had not experienced any pressure from authorities, the Russian news agency Tass reported.

“During this election campaign, our government behaved in an absolutely democratic way. There was no pressure from above or from the side,” he said.

Sergeev won the election after gaining 70 per cent of the vote in the second round. His appointment has been approved by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The 62-year-old is the head of the academy’s Institute of Applied Physics in Nizhny Novgorod, and was one of five candidates vying for the role. Physicist Alexei Khoklov, who was seen as the favourite, was removed from the shortlist after prime minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an order approving candidates last month.

The academy was established in 1724 and is the umbrella body for Russia’s network of research institutions. It manages basic research and is an authority on science policy. In 2013 the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences were incorporated into the academy.

Putin, who met with Sergeev to sign the appointment into decree, said that the academy president’s job was to help implement Russia’s scientific and technological strategy, and to improve the academy’s regulatory framework. “For this, of course, it will be necessary to establish very good relations with various levels of state power,” Putin said.

Yuri Osipov, the former president of the academy, said that Sergeev had to establish a good dialogue with the government. “This is the most important thing in order to determine the academy’s development in the near future,” Tass reported Osipov as saying.

The academy election was originally scheduled for March but was delayed until September after all candidates withdrew their nominations unexpectedly at the last minute.

Story published on Research Europe, September 28 2017

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