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Russian science is not dead – she moved abroad

Российская наука не умерла - она переехала за границу

The fate of a young scientist from Krasnodar Dmitry Lopatin (an interview with him “From a Russian prison to world recognition” published in “OR” on may 6 of this year) has not passed by public attention. Judging by the responses, the disastrous state of basic science is concerned, not only scientists. To leave or not – that is the question.

Lyudmila Butuzova

Ordinary people build a logical chain between the drain and burning aircraft, between penny remuneration specialists and missiles, collapsing at the start, between what medical luminaries practicing “somewhere”, but here in the Russian polyclinics practiced Konovalov from the outskirts of the former USSR…

Minus another genius


The trouble was to be expected. In October 2009, our scientists have made a successful career abroad, and 407 doctors of Sciences from the academic institutes of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod made a desperate attempt to save Russian science. In open letters to the authorities of the country, they drew attention to some very fundamental things that require immediate government intervention:

“If in the next 5-7 years will be to involve youth in scientific-educational sphere, about the plans of building an innovative economy will have to forget… the Regression of science continues, the extent and severity of the dangers of this process underestimated… the Level of funding of Russian science is in sharp contrast with the corresponding indicators of the developed countries…”

What was the reaction of the authorities? What has changed today? See if we have new features —financial, personnel? Or are we hopelessly behind on all scientific fronts? Experts and readers of “New News” given the answers to these questions.

“I read about Lopatin. Yes this is a joke! writes on FB Alla Surovtseva from Novosibirsk Akademgorodok. The government is constantly beating his chest that we have the most advanced technology, and we don’t need any “theirs” navigation (GLONASS coolest), tablets (our students with a next year will be “unkillable”) and (Apple with Microsoft they are not satisfied). Solid slope, but results are seen. The funny thing is, none of the ordinary citizens and not waiting for actual implementation, although the budget is all allocated. Not just isolated, but mastered. But Dmitry Lopatin, a scientist whose invention of flexible solar panels in 2015 entered the TOP 100 of the world and convicted for buying adhesive of this invention, now lives and works abroad. Because there he does not impute a criminal case, and allowed to work, providing everything you need. Minus another real genius of Russian science, and minus sucks a shitload of money from the budget to any non-performing “needs” of the government.”

Statistics of losses

According to various sources abroad are from 500 thousand to 800 thousand Russian scientists. Only in 2016 -2018 year, Russia went from about 100 thousand specialists. It’s not a brain drain is the rapid flow out of the country… Leaving the most active, enterprising, creative people ranging in age from 24 to 38 years, and the most popular in the West.

“I have the impression that leaving now, in General, all who something knows how to do. Now, perhaps, many of the Western Institute, you can find Russian-speaking”, — told “NO” the 33-year-old physicist Vladimir Cherepanov.

He graduated from the Novosibirsk University and left Russia in early 2010-ies, now Cherepanov works in Strasbourg, on androna Collider. There, according to him, every second physicist, native of the Siberian academic school.

Overall statistics on countries today is this: 21% of young people who left settled in Germany, 17.3 per cent in the US, 12% in Israel, 11% in China, 8.2% in the Baltic States, 7.6 percent in Canada. The main reasons: low pay and prestige of the profession; lack of public research funding; non-transparent labour organization and bureaucracy; limited opportunities for academic careers; lack of computing power and equipment.

According to world Bank estimates, due to the massive outflow of scientists Russia loses about $ 2 billion a year. At the traditional General meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences were cited and other dismal figures: over the last ten years, Russia has had no large-scale research project. In particular, multi-disciplinary, designed as, say, physicists and biologists, physicians, chemists. Without this, a breakthrough in science to expect in these times difficult. Spending on research had declined over the previous 18 years 5 times and approached the level of developing countries. Russia today spends on science 7 times less than Japan, 17 times less than the United States, more than 2.7-fold reduction in the number of researchers.

– This creates a number of serious problems, – said Boris Kuzyk, corresponding member of RAS, Director of Institute of economic strategies. Industrial potential of Russia is in a difficult situation. The average age of workers and engineers has reached 55 years or more, depreciation of fixed assets — 74%. This equipment is used for more than 20 years at the maximum efficient rate of exploitation is 9 years old. It is mostly imported equipment. In the machine tool industry and electronic industry we have a serious collapse. In General, the level of development of high technologies, the country fell back on 10-15, and in some areas (biotechnology) for 20 years. Russia’s share in world markets of high technologies of 0.2—0.3%.

Patriotism is not appreciated

Bold minus to the above and is such a delicate issue as the ageing of scientific personnel. The average age of a Russian scientist — tight 50. Every third older than the retirement age. Academic institutions and direction often are headed by doctors of Sciences, who received their titles, figuratively speaking, in the era of persecution of genetics and rejection of GMOs.

“In Russia, the same physicists corny it is difficult to realize themselves, – has shared with “NO” the graduate of Moscow state University Eugene Cherepanov. – We have a very bad and inefficient organization of work in the institutions. In addition, most decisions are taken by people beyond age is such inveterate sukosari to which new ideas and the tank do not break. They are not familiar with the computer, do not know the language. At conferences sometimes I want to cry from what eminent scientist from Russia, barely spoke English. It turns out that in his work, he communicates little with foreign colleagues, and this means that he can’t offer anything relevant to their students. Personally me and all my friends who are engaged in science, these factors greatly discourage the interest to live in this country and spark a desire to leave soon after training”.

Eugene for unpatriotic views home INSTITUTION almost ruined his career in America where he was invited up with your project after the competition, which was attended by 200 specialists from around the world. Salary $70 000 per year, free medical insurance, incentives for housing…

“I was on a budget and I have become reproach: the state has taught you, brought in people, and you, ungrateful, sold for another piece. It was already beyond, he says. – I’m ten years he lived from hand to mouth, in a student dormitory, pored in the laboratory at both ends and is interesting work to me again shone to pore over the papers to carry the portfolio supervisor. Went with the scandal.”

– When there is nothing to keep smart and talented people who always resort to at least – put pressure on the Patriotic feelings, confirms doctor of chemical Sciences Vadim Maltsev. But how valuable scientific patriotism in the country? My friend deals with critical issues of the petrochemical industry: every year, he, along with colleagues create new catalysts that are not embedded, because I buy only foreign. Does anyone know the answer why? Or another question: very capable people graduated, and then what? Institutions destroyed, their premises occupied by merchants. Two institutions in which I worked, destroyed the state property Committee. For what? To sell the building and put some money in their pockets. Where the boys work? Abroad. Unless, of course, not smart enough to turn SKOLKOVO into a kind of Stalinist “sharashka” to the talented youth force practiced there their debts to the Motherland.

Only out of a sense of fairness I must say that all the experts with whom “OR” discussed, I do not consider the departure of the young abroad the biggest disaster for science. Dangerous another direction, “brain drain” – and it is the most massive. It is a departure of capable people in the industry, where their intellectual potential cannot be fully realized in routine office work. Formally, the minds remain in the country, but for science they are, alas, lost.

The thing is that in order to go away takes courage, courage, willingness to start from scratch, whereas most people are afraid of drastic changes, and what is really there – not have a soul minimum capital to hold in a foreign country. It turns out that the only achievement of young scientists, which evaluated the Motherland, is that they, his indecision has suspended the process of “brain drain”.

A view from the West

In Europe, where labour migration is a natural phenomenon today, the attempts of Russia to keep the “scientific livestock” in your herd, look if not with a sneer, puzzled. The answer came from Germany from physics Valeria Prigov to the question “Novye Izvestia”, whether in the West to create a scientific product and to enjoy the fruits of his work without sacrificing any freedoms. Prigov, Valery – candidate of physical and mathematical Sciences, graduated from the physics Department of Moscow state University (Department of cosmic rays). Worked at the Institute. Kurchatov. In 1993 he was invited to work at the German Institute for heavy ions. He defended there the degree of doctor of Sciences. The issue of brain drain from Russia, he considers frivolous, attempts to stop this process – “regurgitation of the past”, and SKOLKOVO – an expensive and useless toy, “you know who”.

There’s no need to stop, he said. It is pointless to even try. Of course, you can deny away, but this measure will not lead to the desired result, as it once was in the USSR. Scientists will still strive for the best conditions, and those who can will move. This exchange, believe me, even necessary – to the same extent that need cross-pollination to the plant is not degenerated. The whole point of the situation is that the achievements of the mind tend to obesesluts over time, becoming the province of all mankind. This is the fundamental error of those who comes up with ridiculous terms, talking about “Russian science”.

– In Russia its own equivalent of Silicon valley – SKOLKOVO. Why our foreign luminaries ignored it? No one has returned. Perhaps in SKOLKOVO there are no opportunities for scientific breakthroughs?

– Because to create such a center difficult. You need to have a highly developed economy as a whole. Unas, “put the cart before the horse” – invited from overseas professionals and put them high salaries, so they were given scientific or technical result, comparable in quality with a similar product of countries with highly developed economies. So it will not work. If we are to be in Silicon valley, there are ready 7 out of 10 startups will fail, moreover, given a second chance financing even losers because they have learned something. In SKOLKOVO, other approaches have not asked these “brains” – will buy other, more expensive and better.

There is another explanation for why SKOLKOVO clings to the brains of others, though I hoped for the return of their Nobel prize winners and under them to create a chic – in material terms – conditions. “Back unit, but in 2014, many began to look to the West, – tells the doctor of physico-mathematical Sciences, academician Viktor Vasiliev. -“Our Crimea” all scared. He is not alone, of course, but that was due to confrontation between the two countries. For scientists a very important research, internationalism, involvement in a big world.”


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-Nice, of course, to be awarded to be, so to speak, is seen, — wrote the correspondent of “NO” is one of the winners of the previous years Victor Samoilenko. But it would be better put things in order with getting grants for research and development. While the money goes to some research center, more than half of stolen. If something manages to get the fight, the killing of “preparatory work” with different “right” people a lot of time, which is never enough. Often have to seek funds for research. I spent on them, for example, all your reward… my Father took the loan so I could buy some of the equipment required, the relatives threw off a couple of times on my trips associated with the project to Industrialists and entrepreneurs. The Institute is not able to take these costs themselves.

But even this is not the most offensive. Project details associated with the upgrading of equipment for the petrochemical industry to implement the failed Russian campaign has not shown to it interest. The same thing, if you remember, was the recent hero “OR” Dmitry Lopatin – its solar panels at home is also not in demand. The only conclusion to which came the winner of the presidential prize – No point in wasting time and energy when your work is useless”. Looks like another genius shoes at checkout .

Oh, those “decrees of may”

The outflow of Russian scientists in recent years – not only the young but quite Mature, with strong positions – the experts associated with the implementation of “may decrees”: the President has set the task to increase the salary of scientists, but it was not allocated funding, institutions have gone the way of downsizing. Somewhere took over the state 20 percent of employees posypav of the Department, and then closed the entire lab under the guise of ineffectiveness of this research area.

But, according to Rosstat, the average salary of a scientist today is 53 800 rubles per month. Aloud this figure is better not to say plucked the outrage of doctors and candidates. The first claim that their real wages does not exceed 30 thousand, the second – twenty

In addition to the may decree, the financial position of the scientists had to recover with the beginning of the reform of the Academy of Sciences. We will remind, in 2013 there were created Federal Agency of scientific organizations (FANO), which took over the property management of the Academy of Sciences, as well as overall leadership over the scientists.

“Since science is run by incompetent people who focus only on formal indicator — the number of publications. Funds for research are not highlighted, this report require in the publications. Apparently, assuming that the material for them, the scientists will be sucked from the finger” — shared with the newspaper “URA.RU” the wounds sociologistLeonty Byzov.

However, it all began not so bad. The long-awaited reform of the RAS – stiff and unwieldy monster that exists as if out of touch with the challenges of today – has given many people hope that the Russian economy is in deed and not in words to pass to innovative rails. So there is a need for large-scale projects of high-tech industries, so it will be secured with a solid state order and paid for new technology and scientific discoveries. Involved in the process expressed a desire and the representatives of the Russian scientific Diaspora. The country returned to major scientists, such as Professor Konstantin Severinov, head of laboratory at Institute of gene biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, during the years of emigration unaccustomed to ineffective management, the bureaucratization of the scientific process and gray-and-black schemes to cut the budget. From afar it seemed to many that Russia, too, has finally rid of this curse. And even while the financing of the Russian science lags behind the world level, money is not everything. They will appear, if a scientist, not a official determines the strategy and financial policy of the Academy of Sciences, then there is the necessary environment for innovation, then science becomes the basis of a high-tech economy. Actually, this bait yesterday’s “defectors” and reached home.

The science of “cut”

What turned the reform of the RAS?. How are those competitions for grants and who benefits from it? Professor Konstantin Severinov, pretty shocked “orders in the kitchen,” did not find it necessary to hide them.

Together with several colleagues, we have applied for grants in four programs of Presidium RAS and was refused, – in the details he told the press. We would like to understand what exactly did not suit the experts. In all the leading countries, together with the refusal you will receive a detailed review, where substantiated reasons for the negative decision. This allows applicants to understand the selection criteria, which are used by the experts. How do things stand with us? The names of the winners and “losers” are made public. Try in such conditions to understand why a scientist gave grants, but not to others. No direct answer will achieve, at best, will say that “do not want to expose its experts,” or to allege that that the scientific Council had very little time to consider applications, so its members orally among themselves to decide whom to grant and whom to deny. That is, examination, in fact, was not. In such a situation, you can make any assumptions. For example, what were the scientific Council people just split the money.

“Novye Izvestia” tried to reach scientists from several institutions to find out whether justice grandrapidsmi after the public criticism of Mr. Severinov. The answer came from the Institute of molecular genetics: “Take any program on any subject and read the winners. There you can find the names of those same academics, who are reported to the scientific Council and allocating grants. Some do not even have one of the supported projects”.

The Council have used, although an untrained researcher is not so easy to deal with the programs and winners. What will tell you the name of Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov, wandering on promising research areas from biology to chemistry. Had to dig the Internet. And that’s what pattern is opened: many of the winners deeply in the retirement age from 75 to 80, with an impressive tail. How to understand this? On the one hand, it is gratifying that people in this age retain a lively mind and is able to move the science into the future, on the other – that is for the future if it relies only on the elderly.

The social security for the grants

The casket was opened disappointingly simple. Grants age scientists –a kind of tribute to underpaid in previous years and victuals to their miserable old age pension.

It is important to understand that this is a humanitarian measure, explained the scale of the problem one of the Vice-presidents of the RAS, himself nearing retirement age. – People go their whole lives selflessly served science and country and retirement is a tragedy. Abroad they are no longer leaving to find work in commercial structures of Russia unreal, so ahead of the humiliating existence. We can’t push our honored elders to it. Although RAS is aging, the proportion of those people aged over 70 goes up dramatically them disproportionately. Maybe our government should adopt the experience of neighbouring countries, where every worker of science and education on retirement pay 80% of monthly salary. Then our senior colleagues willingly left wall of the wounds, freeing up space for youth. But while we balance between the desirable and the possible. You have to deny 65-year-old scholar who would like to come back and work at home. In this age in Europe mandatory retire. And in Russia there is no age limit. We agreed to only accept young people for the future. But do not misunderstand, undermine the old guard, is not humane.

Don’t know how this social security be treated… Even cry for the Soviet Union – then the budget of the Academy of Sciences was 3% of GDP, is now at 0.3% – how to share it no offense to people and to science itself does not suffer? By the way, for those who don’t know: the budget of the entire Russian Academy of Sciences until 2014, was equal to the funding of Harvard University (1 billion USD — the budget of Harvard University, 30 billion rubles — the budget of the RAS, and it is unlikely that the jump in the dollar increased the income of the Academy in half). It’s hard not to agree with the left that the prestige of the scientific professions in such a situation the youth is falling.


But, as they say now, there is good news. Contrary to popular belief that talented young people, after leaving home, does not think of her, there was an example of another kind. Arthur Smirnov graduated from St. Petersburg University of aerospace instrumentation with honors of bachelor. Free studied and received a scholarship at the University of Illinois in Chicago, studied computer science in the direction of artificial intelligence. Arthur is an orphan, in 4 years lost his mother at 10 years old – father. The boy was raised by his grandmother, who taught him from childhood to rely only on themselves. What came out of it, he said in an interview at his home in Stavropol, having arrived there already well-known American scientist. It is impossible not to quote!

The first time I visited USA in 2009 and visited several universities and saw ideal conditions, which is created for teaching and research, – said Arthur. But money for College was not, so I set a goal to get a grant for training. Winning a scholarship is very difficult for one to 500 people. Been preparing for 2 years. In the end, I got a student visa and flew to study in 2012. I’m attracted to the direction of artificial intelligence, this subject is very developed in the USA and not very well developed in Russia, in my University the idea is not supported, and in Chicago I had the opportunity to do research for 20 hours per week.

The young scientist has developed a system to help you determine the diagnoses based on symptoms and complaints of the patient. It is closely connected with artificial intelligence and virtually eliminate medical errors. The invention is successfully used in American hospitals. In the summer of 2013 two apparatus Arthur and provided by the St. Petersburg Institute named Turner and the regional hospital of Stavropol. The choice is explained purely in Russian: “Nostalgia… When I was in school, I had surgery at the Institute named Turner. This is a wonderful place, there are taken for the treatment of children with incredibly difficult diagnoses. I wanted to thank Institute. But in Stavropol, I conducted a training on artificial intelligence and at the same time apply their knowledge to install the system in a regional hospital”.

However, on the question of a possible return to Russia, Arthur says: “Return is always possible, but scientist need to be there, where to work and where more benefit from his research.” Who would argue… Two Russian medical institutions is certainly on his side.

© 2019, paradox. All rights reserved.

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