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Russian Basic Science After Ten Years of Transition and Foreign Support

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Abstract:

The Soviet scientific establishment, while not without defects, stood as one of the more solid achievements of the Soviet Union. It was one of the world's largest and possessed world-class strengths in a number of fields, notably theoretical physics and mathematics. But like virtually all state institutions inherited by the newly cast Russian Federation, the scientific establishment's capacity to provide for basic training and research suffered mightily from the economic collapse of the 1990s. Many leading scientists left the country for top positions in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, while thousands of others simply left science altogether. All of this led many to fear the possible death of Russian science.

This new working paper presents a ten-year perspective (since the fall of the Soviet Union) on changes in the organization and financing of Russian fundamental science and on international support for that science in the same period. Authors Irina Dezhina and Loren Graham assess the impact of international support during these years and suggest ways of continuing and improving that support.