The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS; Russian: Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к (РАН) Rossíiskaya akadémiya naúk) consists of the national academy of Russia; a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation; and additional scientific and social units such as libraries, publishing units, and hospitals.
Headquartered in Moscow, the Academy (RAS) is considered a civil, self-governed, non-commercial organization chartered by the Government of Russia. It combines the members of RAS (see below) and scientists employed by institutions. Near the central academy building there is a monument to Yuri Gagarin in the square bearing his name.
The Academy currently includes around 650 institutions and 55,000 scientific researchers.
There are three types of membership in the RAS: full members (academicians), corresponding members, and foreign members. Academicians and corresponding members must be citizens of the Russian Federation when elected. However, some academicians and corresponding members were elected before the collapse of the USSR and are now citizens of other countries. Members of RAS are elected based on their scientific contributions – election to membership is considered very prestigious. In the years 2005–2012, the academy had approximately 500 full and 700 corresponding members. But in 2013, after the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences became incorporated into the RAS, a number of the RAS members accordingly increased.
The last elections to the renewed Russian Academy of Sciences were organized in October 2016. Earlier, in winter 2015/2016, the Academy assigned the so-called RAS Professors (493 scientists), subordinated to the regular members and considered as possible future candidates for membership; 104 of them were elected already in autumn 2016 and are now titled "RAS professor, corresponding member of the RAS". Totally, as of September 2017, the Academy had 2038 Russian members (full: 911, corresponding: 1127) and 497 foreign members.
The RAS consists of 13 specialized scientific divisions, three territorial branches and 15 regional scientific centers. The Academy has numerous councils, committees, and commissions, all organized for different purposes.
The Russian Academy of Sciences comprises a large number of research institutions, including:
Member institutions are linked via a dedicated Russian Space Science Internet (RSSI). Started with just three members, The RSSI now has 3,100 members, including 57 from the largest research institutions.
Russian universities and technical institutes are not under the supervision of the RAS (they are subordinated to the Ministry of Education of Russian Federation), but a number of leading universities, such as Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, Novosibirsk State University, and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, make use of the staff and facilities of many institutes of the RAS (as well as of other research institutions); the MIPT faculty refers to this arrangement as the "Phystech System".
From 1933 to 1992, the main scientific journal of the Soviet Academy of Sciences was the Proceedings of the USSR Academy of Sciences (Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR); after 1992, it became simply Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences (Doklady Akademii Nauk).
The Academy is also increasing its presence in the educational area. In 1990 the Higher Chemical College of the Russian Academy of Sciences was founded, a specialized university intended to provide extensive opportunities for students to choose an academic path.
The Academy gives out a number of different prizes, medals and awards among which:
The Emperor Peter the Great, inspired and advised by Gottfried Leibniz, founded the Academy in Saint Petersburg; the Senate decree of February 8 (January 28 old style), 1724 implemented the establishment. Originally called The Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences (Russian: Петербургская Академия наук), the organization went under various names over the years, becoming The Imperial Academy of Sciences and Arts (Императорская Академия наук и художеств; 1747–1803), The Imperial Academy of Sciences (Императорская Академия Наук; 1803—1836), and finally, The Imperial Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences (Императорская Санкт-Петербургская Академия Наук, from 1836 and until the end of the empire in 1917).
Foreign scholars invited to work at the academy included the mathematicians Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), Anders Johan Lexell, Christian Goldbach, Georg Bernhard Bilfinger, Nicholas Bernoulli (1695-1726) and Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782), botanist Johann Georg Gmelin, embryologists Caspar Friedrich Wolff, astronomer and geographer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle, physicist Georg Wolfgang Kraft, historian Gerhard Friedrich Müller and English Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne (1732-1811).
Expeditions to explore remote parts of the country had Academy scientists as their leaders or most active participants. These included Vitus Bering's Second Kamchatka Expedition of 1733–1743, expeditions to observe the 1769 transit of Venus from eight locations in Russian Empire, and the expeditions of Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) to Siberia.
A separate organization, called the Russian Academy (Академия Российская), was created in 1783 to work on the study of the Russian language. Presided over by Princess Yekaterina Dashkova (who at the same time was the Director of the Imperial Academy of Arts and Sciences, i.e., the country's "main" academy), the Russian Academy was engaged in compiling the six-volume Academic Dictionary of the Russian Language (1789–1794). The Russian Academy was merged into the Imperial Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1841.
In December 1917, Sergey Fedorovich Oldenburg, a leading ethnographer and political activist in the Kadet party, met with Vladimir Lenin to discuss the future of the Academy. They agreed that the expertise of the Academy would be applied to addressing questions of state construction, while in return the Soviet regime would give the Academy financial and political support. By the early 1918 it was agreed that the Academy would report to the Department of the Mobilisation of Scientific Forces of the People's Commissariat for Education which replaced the Provisional Government's Ministry of Education. In 1925 the Soviet government recognized the Russian Academy of Sciences as the "highest all-Union scientific institution" and renamed it the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Under Stalin the education system would be stunted by the strict codes on proper speech and what is acceptable to discuss as a good Communist because he had the strictest rules on the matter of propriety and discussion. The Soviet Sciences Academy would be affected like all universities by the rules imposed particularly those pertaining to censorship. Not only would it be directly affected by censorship in the sense that some materials would be banned but people would be put in charge or taken out of leadership of the schools based on censorship and false accusations of improper behavior would be used in attempts to gain favor. The Soviet Science Academy ended up with a leader of the philosophy department who was placed there simply to keep the man out of trouble. The government decided to not execute or send the famous writer to the gulag because he had won the Stalin award. Doing this would have discredited the Stalin award and thus Stalin the leader of the Communist party himself. So instead, the Soviet Science Academy would have Georgii Aleksandrov work for them placing him as a department head because they believed there that he could be more easily controlled and kept within party parameters in regards to his behavior and speech. They did so because he attempted to publish works and write about topics that were considered questionable. The topic which he wanted to write about were philosophers who were not the four main Communist philosophers he wanted to mention the Western philosophers in his writings. This was decided to be inappropriate and his proposal was refused by the authorities. They then decided that it would be best to demote him from his current position of research and place him as a head of department at the Soviet Science Academy because it was considered a lesser position where he could be kept out of further mischief. Another incident which happened regarding the Soviet Science Academy during this period is that a jealous scientist would attempt to discredit two famous geneticists. These genetics had government permission to publish their findings in an American journal of science which made the Soviet Union and the Science Academy look distinguished and able to compete with the Western world. However, the scientist Trofim Densisovich Lysenka would falsely accuse them of collaborations with the West and selling secrets because he wanted to gain recognition of his own and gain funding. He felt as though more money should be put into agriculture instead. However, this attempt would backfire and he would be ignored even during this period of intense concern with such problems. During this era the expected move would have been to arrest the scientists but like the philosopher they were very high profile and so rather than arresting them for flimsy charges they looked into the man making the accusations and would choose instead to take a wiser and more reasonable course of action. In the Soviet Science Academy as well as in the USSR science field in general, people often used informal networks to communicate. This was true of prominent scientists such as Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinskii an internationally reputable organic chemist who began before the revolution and continued his work after. He was not a member of the Communist party nor did he hold a high position but he did hold discussion with scientists from across various fields of study. This meant that people knew and would support him across fields of science which was common for this period. So there was a certain amount of cooperation and working together to be found as well scientists who tried to get each other in trouble.
The Soviet Science Academy would be pitted against the Communist Academy in terms of status. Both of them would compete in terms of relevancy and official recognition by the party. These organizations would struggle within the bureaucracy to gain more resources and respect during the late 1920s. Until party leader Avel Safronovich Enukidnze would be placed in charge of it and he made it superior to the Soviet Academy by declaration. However, the Communist Academy would fade in the 1930s because it was seen as promoting the older Bolshevik ideals and would cease to exist ending the competition between the two. This period of completion though led to a restructuring in the Soviet Sciences Academy in order to better it so that it would not be seen as obsolete. It came close in the late 1920s to dissolving the Science Academy but would stop short of it because they decided it was important to have a singular scientific institute. The reasons for nearly destroying it had to do with the danger of thinking minds under the Soviet system and the concern that they did not uphold the right sort of ideals. They would decide that the Science Academy was necessary for the Soviet Empire and decided not destroy it but rather to rework the system. This would eventually lead to the Soviet Science Academy dominating as they found it continued to be useful as a way of competing with the West. The last major thing that would happen with the Soviet Science Academy would be a struggle to allow more Western ideas into the Physics Department. This obviously was in response to America having nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union realizing they needed to catch up with them. An article would be published by Vladimir Fock through the Soviet Science academy criticizing the theories of Einstein because he was a Western scientist. However, this propagandist work was found to have shoddy science behind it and the entire department upon inspection was found to be less productive than the rest of the Science Academy. The more realistic scientific work written by Moisey Alexandrovich Markov which agreed with Western theories would receive more support. So in the beginning, with people like Aleksandrov in the philosophy department there was the idea that people should not bring up Western ideology even to criticize it and explain why Communism is better but now there is a turnaround where because beating the West is what matters good science needs to take place even if it means talking about ideas that go against principles to do so. This is because the philosophy of the West had been more important to defeat than proper research methods until the concerns about nuclear war emerged. They would decide to fire more of the department and hire more competent people because of the increased importance of nuclear research. The need for physicists would protect Jewish people from the xenophobic wrath of Stalin and Beria but not everyone would be spared for these reasons. Still many scientists would be protected by the institute because they were seen as important to the success of the country. The Soviet Science Academy would help to play their part in the goal of the Soviet Union to surpass the military might of the United States through the use of physics and chemistry research. Important members of the scientific community were spared from Stalin's usual amount of wrath and their punishments were often lessened from what one usually would expect from the regime. In the beginning this was mainly because of ideological reasons to not harm the party by punishing someone who had received a major award or had international accreditation. Scientists were given more chances to explain their behavior or prove their innocents than average citizens because they were seen as valuable. Later, though it would be for more practical reasons as scientists became the leaders in the arms race which played a major part in the Cold War. The Soviet Science Academy would become the dominant institute where these scientists were educated and often worked.
However, from 1928 on the Politburo interfered in the affairs of the Academy. By the summer of 1929, Yuri Petrovich Figatner headed a special government commission that had to inspect the Academy and purge it of "counter-revolutionaries," turning it into a Stalinist organization. Figatner's commission originally included Sergey Oldenburg, but he was sacked for "obstructing the reconstruction of the Academy of Sciences". By the end of 1929, 128 members of staff out of 960 were fired, with a further 520 supernumeraries from 830 also dismissed. In the following year over 100 people (mainly scholars and humanists, including many historians) were charged in what is called the Academicians' Case. Former Academicians such as G.S. Gabaev, A.A. Arnoldi, Nikolai Antsiferov, had already been exiled or imprisoned, but were also put on trial. On August 8, 1931 the Board of the Joint State Political Administration Board condemned 29 people, including:
In 1931 the Joint State Political Administration Board imposed another wave of punishments on the research officers of various establishments of the Academy of Sciences, the Russian Museum, the Central Archives, and others. These included A.A. Byalynitsky-Birulya, A.A. Dostoevsky, B.M. Engelgardt, N.S. Platonova, M.D. Priselkov, A.A. Putilov, S.V. Sigrist, F.F. Skribanovich, S.I. Tkhorzhevsky, and A.I. Zaozersky). Some former officers, who worked for the Academy of Sciences such as A.A. Kovanko and Y. A. Verzhbitsky, were executed by shooting. N.V. Raevsky, P.V. Wittenburg and D.N. Khalturin who had organized various expeditions, the priests A.V. Mitrotsky, M.V. Mitrotsky, and M.M. Girs (the church group), Professor E.B. Furman, Pastor A.F. Frishfeld (the German group) and F.I. Vityazev-Sedenko, S.S. Baranov-Galperson and E.G. Baranov-Galperson (the publishers group) were also punished.
Smaller commissions investigated institutions, thus the Commission for the Reorganisation of KIPS and the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography subjected these organisations to "socialist criticism".
At the end of and first year after World War II the Academy consisted of eight divisions (Physico-Mathematical Science, Chemical Sciences, Geological-Geographical Sciences, Biological Science, Technical Science, History and Philosophy, Economics and Law, Literature and Languages); three committees (one for coordinating the scientific work of the Academies of the Republics, one for scientific and technical propaganda, and one for editorial and publications), two commissions (for publishing popular scientific literature, and for museums and archives), a laboratory for scientific photography and cinematography and Academy of Science Press departments external to the divisions; 7 branches (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Urals, and West Siberian), and 8 undependent Academies in Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Latvia, and Estonia.
The Academy of Sciences of the USSR helped to establish national Academies of Sciences in all Soviet republics (with the exception of the Russian SFSR), in many cases delegating prominent scientists to live and work in other republics. In the case of the Ukraine, its academy was formed by the local Ukrainian scientists and prior to the occupation of the Ukrainian People's Republic by Bolsheviks. These academies were:
|Ukrainian SSR||Академія наук Української РСР||1918||National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Byelorussian SSR||Акадэмія Навукаў Беларускай ССР||1929||National Academy of Sciences of Belarus|
|Uzbek SSR||Ўзбекистон ССР Фанлар академияси||1943||Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan|
|Kazakh SSR||Қазақ ССР Ғылым Академиясы||1946||National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan|
|Georgian SSR||საქართველოს სსრ მეცნიერებათა აკადემია||1941||Georgian Academy of Sciences|
|Azerbaijan SSR||Азәрбајҹан ССР Елмләр Академијасы||1945||National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan|
|Lithuanian SSR||Lietuvos TSR Mokslų akademija||1941||Lithuanian Academy of Sciences|
|Moldavian SSR||Академия де Штиинце а РСС Молдовенешть||1946||Academy of Sciences of Moldova|
|Latvian SSR||Latvijas PSR Zinātņu akadēmija||1946||Latvian Academy of Sciences|
|Kirghiz SSR||Кыргыз ССР Илимдер академиясы||1954||National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic|
|Tajik SSR||Академияи Фанҳои РСС Тоҷикистон||1953||Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan|
|Armenian SSR||Հայկական ՍՍՀ գիտությունների ակադեմիա||1943||National Academy of Sciences of Armenia|
|Turkmen SSR||Түркменистан ССР Ылымлар Академиясы||1951||Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan|
|Estonian SSR||Eesti NSV Teaduste Akadeemia||1946||Estonian Academy of Sciences|
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, by decree of the President of Russia of December 2, 1991, the academy again became the Russian Academy of Sciences, inheriting all facilities of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the territory of the Russian Federation.
The crisis of the 1990s in the post-Soviet Russia and a consequent drastic reduction of the state support for science have forces many scientists to leave Russia for Europe, Israel or United States. Some excellent university graduates who could become promising researchers, preferred to switch to other activities, predominately in commerce. The Russian Academy has practically lost a generation of people born from mid-1960s to mid-1970s, this age category is now underrepresented in all research institutes.
In the 2000s, the situation in the Russian science and technology has improved, the government announced a modernization campaign. Nevertheless, according to the Russian Academy of Sciences, total R&D spending in 2013 still hovered about 40% below the pre-crisis 1990 levels. Furthermore, a lack of competition, decayed infrastructure and continuing, though slightly reduced, brain drain play their part.
On June 28, 2013, the Russian Government unexpectedly announced a draft law presuming a dissolution of the RAS and creation of a new "public-governmental" organization with the same name. The buildings and other property of the Academy were supposed to be taken under control of a government-established Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO Russia). The declared idea was to enable scientists to concentrate exclusively on research activities without worrying about housing-maintenance services or administrative things. The reform was allegedly authored by Mikhail Kovalchuk, brother of Yury Kovalchuk, known as Vladimir Putin's personal banker.
The draft law, which, in its initial form, would have fundamentally changed the system of science organization in Russia, provoked conflicts with the academic circles and strong refutation by many prominent individuals. A large group of the RAS members signalized their intention not to join the new academy if the reform is run as planned in the draft. The world's leading scientists (including Pierre Deligne, Michael Atiyah, Mumford, and others) have written open letters which referred to the planned reform of the "shocking" and even "criminal". In this situation, the draft was softened in some details, e.g. there remained no words about “dissolution” in the text, — and approved on September 27, 2013.
Now, all the academy institutions are already under jurisdiction of the FASO; this agency was empowered to “evaluate”, relying on its own criteria, an efficiency of the institutions and rearrange ineffective ones (this point is felt dangerous by many scientists). Furthermore, according to the law, the two other Russian national academies — for Agriculture and for Medicine — were fused to the RAS as its new specialized scientific divisions.
During the years 2014—2017 there occurred no large-scale protest actions, but, in general, a scientific community has not supported the launched reforms. Sometimes these reforms are interpreted as nothing else than a redistribution of real estate. In 2017, when the new presidium of the Academy was being elected, the candidates for presidency negatively estimated the intermediate results of the reforms. The elected RAS president Alexander Sergeev claimed a change of the legal status of the Russian Academy of Sciences as one of the urgent problems. Nevertheless, he is ready to establish working relationships with the state authorities at various levels, including the FASO.
The last presidential elections in the Academy (and also elections of the presidium) were organized on September 25—28, 2017. Initially the event was planned for March 2017, but unexpectedly all candidates retracted their nominations, and the elections were postponed.