Parliamentary and Presidential Elections
Parliamentary elections were held in Russia in December 2011 and presidential elections in March 2012. In spite of significant losses, United Russia remained the main party in parliament. Former President Medvedev became Prime Minister and switched post with Vladimir Putin, who was elected to return to his previous post of Russian President. Elections were accompanied by protests against electoral fraud. Modernisation of the economy and stimulation of innovation activities were on the agenda of prime minister and president during the election campaign. The elections have led to changes of S&T policy makers: Dmitry Livanov was appointed new Minister of Education and Science on 21 May 2012.
Audit of Russian Academy of Sciences announced
New Minister of Education and Science, Dmitry Livanov, has announced in one of his first moves an audit of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and of other major research institutions. The RAS is by far the biggest research institution in the country and a stronghold of basic resaerch in Russia. An audit of the R&D sector will be undertaken for the first time in 20 years and shall provide a much needed overview of institutions and their capacities. Besides the RAS there is a multitude of so-called branch research institutes, which are linked to ministries or other governmental institutions.
Skolkovo Innovation Centre moves ahead
An innovation project pushed by the Russian President Medvedev since autumn 2009 concerns the Innovation Centre Skolkovo. A Russian kind of Silicon Valley shall be established from scratch, featuring preferential administrative treatment for investors and involving Russian and foreign R&D intensive businesses. The Skolkovo Foundation was established in 2010, involving a number of prominent national and international figures in its boards and councils. Construction, recruiting of personnel for the Innovation Centre and grant giving has started in 2011.
Strengthening research at universities prioritised in Russia
Strengthening the research capacities of Russian universities is a focus of Russian S&T policy in recent years. Accordingly the Innovative Universities programme provided substantial grants to 57 Russian Universities for purchase of equipment and training of staff for the period 2010-2012. Overall seven Federal Universities are in the process of being set-up on the basis of already existing universities. Additional financial support is allocated for this programme, which shall transform these universities in top class institutions. In the frame of a programme to establish a network of National Research Universities two calls were launched in 2009 and 2010; as a result 27 universities were selected for funding (12 in the first and 15 in the second call). Finally, in the frame of a programme to attract leading scientists to Russian universities, 40 scientists (including a majority from abroad) were selected in 2010 to receive substantial grants. Another call in this programme was launched in 2011 and 39 scientists were selected.
The appointment of Minister Livanov means continuity in this policy. As former rector of the National University of Science and Technology "MISIS", he has strong links to the universities. Moreover, he has in the past been involved in the management of programmes for strengthening research at universties.