Putin’s Russia Has Started Censoring Scientists

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A new decree is forcing top Russian scientists to get research approved by the government’s Federal Security Service (FSB) before submitting it to scientific conferences or journals.

“This is a return to Soviet times when in order to send a paper to an international journal, we had to get a permission specifying that the result is not new and important and hence may be published abroad,” Mikhail Gelfand, a bioinformatician at Moscow State University, Russia’s most prestigious university, told Nature.

Previously, this law only applied to militarily or industrially significant work, but Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded it by decree to include any type of science that could be used to develop “new products.” Essentially, the FSB is treating all scientific work as potentially classified.

Russia’s largest private science-funding organization was shut down by the government after being labeled  a”foreign agent” earlier this year. The country’s scientific output has already significantly declined.

Putin’s Russia has greatly increased censorship on the media as well. In fact, only 3 percent of Russians believe that Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last year, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Soviet Union had a long history of interfering with scientific research that did not suit its political whims.

Soviet biology was encouraged to demonstrate “natural cooperation” in nature rather than “natural selection” in an attempt to ideologically justify communism.

Physics, especially quantum mechanics, special relativity, and general relativity were also criticized on grounds of “idealism.” Purges of “ideologically incorrect” physicists were planned and were only averted because of the potential harm to the Soviet nuclear program.

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