MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti) – Draft legislation to overhaul Russia’s Academy of Sciences, a network of hundreds of research institutions that the government has long accused of ineffectiveness, passed its second of three readings in the lower house of parliament on Friday.
The bill’s original text, which was harshly criticized this week by the academy’s governing body, sought to create a separate state agency that would manage the science network’s property. The draft even provided an option to “liquidate” the academy altogether.
This week, the head of the academy, Vladimir Fortov, met with President Vladimir Putin and implored him to delay the reform for at least a year. Putin refused, but said controversial aspects of the bill would be revised before its second reading in parliament.
According to the draft approved by the lower house on Friday, Fortov would head the new agency to manage the academy’s property. At their meeting, Putin had suggested that such an amendment would be made.
The academy’s presidium had earlier criticized the creation of such an agency, saying it would hand control over to government bureaucrats with no scholarly experience and whose chief interest is in seizing assets.
The bill’s second draft also states that the Academy of Sciences would be merged with the academies of medicine and agriculture, but their separate governing bodies would not be eliminated. Also, the current text does not contain the contentious “liquidation” option.
The bill’s third reading is expected when the legislature reconvenes in the fall. Friday was the last day before it recessed for summer vacation. The bill’s first reading had taken place two days earlier.