The election of members of the Russian Academy of Sciences will be held at the general meeting on November 14.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sergeyev, anyone can see that this time preparations for the elections in the Academy have been organised so that the process is transparent to the academic community and everyone in this wonderful and noble profession.
It is gratifying that all the candidates are known for their notable contributions to science or outstanding discoveries. All of them are respected people who have a right to be elected a corresponding or a full member of the Academy. I wish all of them every success.
President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev: Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to report on the specifics of preparing for elections this year.
First of all, we believe that stiff competition is the shortest way to having the best scientists among the Academy members. This time we offered election to a reduced number of seats vacated for natural causes, actually, to 70 percent of vacancies.
And second, we have expanded the list of disciplines so that more scientists can aspire for membership.
Vladimir Putin: As far as I know, the expert evaluation done this time covered more than just particular specialities.
Alexander Sergeyev: Yes, that’s true. This year we do have very broad specialities. Before that, some people complained that there was only one candidate per seat in certain specialities, while today we have approximately four candidates per seat for a full member and some nine candidates per seat for a corresponding member.
Here is another important circumstance: we assessed professional and ethical qualities of applicants with the help of our expert commissions and two ethics commissions. These commissions recommended about 58 percent of the prospective Academy members and about 33 percent of its prospective corresponding members. This does not mean that they will be elected; people will be elected from among the submitted candidacies, but the recommendation of our expert commissions is very important.
At long last, we posted detailed online data on all applicants this year, so as to make the elections as transparent as possible. As I have already said, judging by the number of contenders, many people want to become full members and corresponding members of the Academy (76 and 171, respectively).
Vladimir Putin: What was the average age in the previous elections?
Alexander Sergeyev: Indeed, you and I will have to discuss the situation with the average age in greater detail. This is one of our substantial problems. To be more precise, the average age of Academy members is now 75, and the average age of corresponding members is 68. Prospective Academy members and corresponding members are 67 and almost 59 years old, on the average. The election of younger members is a very important matter. We have several proposals on how we should act. I would also like to report this to you.
There is another substantial matter. We can see that elections to government agencies feature more advanced technologies than those to the Russian Academy of Sciences. This year, we will try out a system similar to the Elections state automated system at one of our branches. In addition, in response to complaints about ballot tampering, we are introducing a system of secure ballots for the first time this year.
Finally, one last point: we recall your critical remarks during the 2017 elections that, although the relevant instruction on restricting the number of civil servants and heads of major state agencies was received, a sufficiently large number of people took part in those elections and won. This year, we dealt with this situation very carefully, and we will not have any such incidents. So, these are the main aspects, and I would also like to explain the details.
Vladimir Putin: You have just mentioned the average age of Academy members and corresponding members, but those elected in 2017 were younger, on the average.
Alexander Sergeyev: Their average age was lower, but, this year, prospective Academy members are aged 67 on the average. The average age of the current Academy members is 75. This means that younger candidates will make it into the Academy. But, unfortunately, their number falls short of our expectations.