Russian research and culture institutions face huge cut

Russian Foundation for Basic Research looking at Rb1.15 billion decrease, while Moscow State University told to slash budget by 10 per cent

April 5, 2022
Russia State Hermitage
Source: iStock

Russia’s research and cultural institutions will need to brace for sweeping cuts of more than Rb18 billion, according to a document released by one of its leading universities.

Plans to trim back Russian research and culture spending by the equivalent of £164 million were announced as Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hit the Russian economy.

The move comes as Russian academia is squeezed on both sides, pressured by the Kremlin to toe the official line even as many Western universities cut bilateral ties. This March, while Russian academics faced arrest for their opposition to the war, rectors of top Russian institutions signed a letter supporting president Vladimir Putin and his decision to invade Ukraine, prompting international condemnation.

According to the Saint Petersburg State University (SPBGU), which published details on the cuts following a 4 April rectors meeting, the steep decreases in funding are “due to the difficult macroeconomic situation caused by the introduction of illegal restrictions on our country by unfriendly countries”.

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation faces cuts of about Rb17 billion (£155 million), while the Russian Foundation for Basic Research – one of the country’s top science funders – looks to lose Rb1.15 billion.

The document also outlined lower budgets at several prestigious national institutions, including the State Hermitage museum, which faces a Rb410 million cut.

Russia’s top university – the Moscow State University – is among top institutions that have been told to trim their budget by 10 per cent in a “forced optimisation procedure” after allegedly failing to supply paperwork to the government requesting support.

Meanwhile, the Saint Petersburg State University was able to retain its budget, it said, by redistributing internal funds and reducing income in some areas, including for international scientific collaboration and because of a decrease in students from Europe. It also received additional support from the government to the tune of Rb248 million.

“It should be noted that the positive decision to provide SPBGU with budget support was the result of lengthy consultations with the Russian Ministry of Finance,” the university said.

Information about the cuts has not yet been published by Russia’s science ministry.

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