MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) – Hundreds of people turned out in downtown Moscow on Saturday to protest against planned changes to the Russian Academy of Sciences, local media report.
The rally was organized by a group of professors and young scholars within the Russian Academy of Sciences to draw the authorities’ attention to their opposition to the proposed reforms and to raise awareness among the general public, organizers were cited by local media as saying.
During the rally, participants agreed a declaration setting out their position and further action.
“If our demands are not fulfilled, we intend to use all legal means, including strikes and mass protest actions, to defend our rights,” the declaration reads.
A correspondent for the Gazeta.ru site estimated the turnout at about 1,000 people, which was in line with the number of people the rally’s organizers said attended. The police did not provide an estimate of attendance.
In early July Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved a bill of reforms to the Russian Academy of Sciences in second reading.
As initially worded, the bill outlined plans to disband the Academy and other affiliated institutions, but in its second reading was re-worded – no longer referring to the “disbanding” of the Academy, and instead talking about a wide-ranging reorganization.