Open Letter to the Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education

Norwich, 10 October 2019

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On 11 February 2019, the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Kotiukov, issued an ordinance that made the regulations for collaboration with foreign academics significantly more stringent. It introduces a two-person rule for meetings with foreign academics, i.e. it stipulates that at each meeting there should be at least two Russian representatives in attendance, and that these representatives should file a report on the meeting thereafter. As the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on 8 October, the Kazan Federal University has already adopted these new rules in its internal guidelines.

Many within the Russian academic community regard the ordinance as extremely counterproductive to research and as an expression of official mistrust towards foreign scholars and their academic partners in the Russian Federation. Foreign scholars, who are currently working with Russian partners, have also voiced their serious concerns and misgivings. The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, the Verband der Osteuropahistorikerinnen und -historiker, and the Deutsche Slavistenverband, expressed these concerns in a joint open letter to the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Kotiukov on 1 October 2019.

‘As academic organisations, we look back on three decades of successful binational and international collaboration with individuals and institutions from the Russian Federation. This collaboration has opened up new research perspectives and has created a spirit of mutual trust, from which everyone involved has benefited to a high degree.

As societies for eastern European research in Germany and Britain, we have a great interest in further expanding and strengthening cooperation with colleagues from the Russian Federation. The new regulations issued by your ministry threaten to destroy this trustworthy international collaboration in the academic and research fields. This has been a cause of major concern and misgivings in the academic community. We therefore ask you to clarify the intention behind the above-mentioned ordinance, and to refrain from imposing any restrictions on international academic exchange.’

The full letter can be accessed here.

For further information please contact Dr Matthias Neumann (University of East Anglia) at president@basees.org