Some voters think the list could make a difference in the election.
“Most of the scientific community is definitely anti-war,” said Alexander Nozik, a physicist at Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology who was not involved in creating the list. “Being on such a list could significantly reduce the chances of being elected.”
Some outside observers say the Russian Academy is no longer as powerful as it once was.
“It used to be a vast network of research institutes containing the best scientists in the country,” said Loren Graham, a historian specializing in Russian science, with emeritus positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. “These institutes have now been stripped by the Putin government, given to the Ministry of Education and leaving the academy as an honorary society with no real weight in science.”
Members of the academy have also been implicated in ethical breaches in recent years. In 2020, a commission appointed by the body found that Russian academic journals and research publications were riddled with plagiarism, self-plagiarism and freebie authorship, where scientists were listed as co-authors of manuscripts without contribute to the work. As a result of the report, Russian journals withdrew more than 800 research articles in which the authors were suspected of having committed ethical violations.
A separate 2020 expose by the same academy commission found several rectors and other senior university officials guilty of publishing papers in questionable journals, listing false contributors, and plagiarism.
And some say such issues diminish the importance of the upcoming academy elections.
“Many Russian scientists still believe that the academy is the oldest structure capable of doing something, not because it is good, but because others are worse,” Dr Nozik said.
Russo-Ukrainian War: Main Developments
This is not the first time that the Russian Academy of Sciences has found itself embroiled in disputes over the invasion of Ukraine. On March 7, he released a statement on the war. Some observers saw it as the country’s closest official institution to condemning Russia’s aggression, but critics felt it was not as explicitly anti-war as it should have been.
But the statement addressed the repercussions of the war and how the international response to it would affect Russian science, a concern shared by Russian scholars.