First among Russian scientists

Alexander Sergeyev has become the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 
The new president of the Russian Academy of Sciences was physicist Alexander Sergeev: in the second round, he overtook his comrade at the academic club "July 1", the mechanic Robert Nigmatulin, with a significant advantage. Mr. Sergeyev, in particular, aroused the colleagues' sympathy with calls to introduce a "scientific" tax on the raw materials business and large state-owned companies. However, for all the seeming opposition, the program of the new head of the Russian Academy of Sciences looks quite in line with the ideas of some government economists.

The election of the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences took two days. On Monday, each of the five candidates spoke before the general meeting of the Academy - the applicants retold the programs and answered the questions of the hall. Then the tribune received supporters of candidates who ardently urged colleagues to support their choice (see "Kommersant" on September 26). The discussion dragged on until late in the evening, and. about. president of the academy Valery Kozlov suggested that the vote on Tuesday will be held in two rounds.

In the morning in the building of the Russian Academy of Sciences long lines lined up to a few booths for voting. Yesterday's discussions were not in vain: after counting 1596 ballots, it turned out that none of the candidates could score 799 votes needed to win in the first round. Alexander Sergeev and Robert Nigmatulin went to the second round. They are both members of the influential academic club "July 1", created in 2013 by scientists protesting the reform of the RAS. Thus, instead of a political duel, the second round turned out to be rather a friendly duel, in which Mr. Sergeyev won.

After announcing the results, the academician thanked his predecessors at the post of president - Valery Kozlov and Vladimir Fortov, as well as rivals. "Maybe it will seem strange to you, but during the pre-election campaign we worked together," he said. In his view, the guarantee of the Academy's success is in the unity of all branches.

Recall that in 2013 the reform to the Russian Academy of Sciences was joined by the Agricultural and Medical Academy, but full integration has not yet occurred. "For the first time the president was chosen by our three academies, and I promise you to be your president for all branches of the Academy of Sciences," said Alexander Sergeyev. He also noted that the elections were democratic: "There was no pressure from above or from the side. I believe that this is the key to the consensus between the academy and the authorities, about which I spoke in my speech. "

Indeed, in the pre-election speech (published on the "Kommersant" website), Mr. Sergeyev repeatedly promised to come to an agreement with the country's leadership on a number of issues of principle for the Academy, for example, about the powers of FAO. This is one of the weaknesses of the new president's program, said Igor Tikhonovich, director of the All-Russia Research Institute of Agricultural Microbiology: "I think he hopes that he will be able to convey his thoughts to the country's leadership - and that it will meet halfway. Of course, there is a certain assumption. But I wish him good luck in the battle for the academy. " According to Mr. Tikhonovich, one of the main tasks for the new president will be the integration of the three academies: "The vector has already changed, no longer have to hear offensive words like" collective farm manure. " But there is still something to be done in this direction. " According to him, after the election, academicians joked in the lobby that they would "keep Sergeyev's program in the desks and will periodically check how it goes on."

The need for a team-based solution to the problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences is also spoken by physicians.

The main economic proposals, expressed by the new head of the Russian Academy of Sciences in his speech, ideologically differ little from the ideas of 2013-2014 by the economic adviser to President Andrei Belousov, which are the basis of the National Technological Initiative. "Reintegration of the RAS into the national economy of the country through the implementation of major projects" and so presupposes the existence of such "large projects" and their financing through STI, and the new head of the RAS only suggests increasing the role of the Academy in the allocation of costs for these purposes.

Mr. Sergeev's proposal to "comply with the May decrees" with respect to scientific activities is essentially the execution of two paragraphs of Decree No. 599 "to increase by the year 2015 domestic expenditures on research and development up to 1.77% of GDP" and "to increase by 2018 the total volume financing of state scientific funds to 25 billion rubles. " The latter is formally still possible, since the deadline for the implementation of this point of the decree has not yet come.

The reduction in spending on basic science in 2015-2016 did not exceed the reduction envisaged for other budget items - in contrast to the "May decrees" in health care and education, which for the most part relate not to federal but to regional budgets. The very idea of ​​additional allocation for fundamental research to 30 billion rubles. per year (and together with spending on "infrastructure" - 60 billion rubles.), apparently, will return federal spending on basic science to about 1.5% of GDP. The problem is that the creation of the FAO, as well as other reforms of the RAS, assumed that the increase in expenditures is possible only after the Academy of Sciences has been optimized. Proceeding from the speech of Mr. Sergeev, he adheres to the opposite point of view: money for basic research should be sought in addition to 110 billion rubles. current expenditure. It is obvious that the main opponent of what is happening will be not even the FANO, but the Finance Ministry, for which science is only one of the articles of budget expenditures that does not demonstrate readiness to increase the efficiency of spending.

Finally, the idea of ​​a "corporation tax" with the purpose of financing basic research is not new either. The likelihood that the government will be interested in such an idea is almost zero - they still remember the experience of attempts of 2013 in the framework of the Skolkovo construction (titally more innovative structure) to direct 1% of R & D expenditures of the largest state companies and state corporations to the "innograd" budget. "Gazprom", "Rosneft" and "Rostekh" with unusual ease blocked the government attempt on their budgets. Mr. Sergeev's persistence in the proposal of the "tax for science" is sure to cause only the emergence of the RAS strong enemies capable of explaining to the presidential administration and the government the "true state of affairs" in the structures of the academy.

However, for all the seeming opposition, the program of the new head of the RAS is fully in line with the ideas of some government economists, although not the financial and economic block of the White House. This circumstance will surely be taken into account after the first emotional assessment of the results of the election of the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The elected head of the RAS should be approved by Vladimir Putin. Assistant to the Russian President Andrei Fursenko on Tuesday told Kommersant that "at the moment he sees no reason not to approve Alexander Sergeev."