Brussels, 24 June 2002
Russian scientists are planning to march 100 kilometres to Moscow in a protest about the decline in Russian science.
Around 150 scientists will cover the distance between a research centre south of the city and Moscow in three days. A cut in government science spending and the resulting brain drain to the West are the main issues which the protestors are hoping to highlight.
While Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, has made reviving Russia's scientific establishment a priority, scientists believe the government is going back on its pledge to keep up funding. The country's spending in the field of science has decreased two-fold in the past six years, leaving a budget which is less than that of individual western universities, say the protestors.
At least 500,000 scientists have left Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The majority head for the USA, Europe and Japan, where they are very much in demand, and can earn significantly more than the $100 per month average Russian salary.
President Putin has urged Russia's scientists to streamline their research and focus on developing new technologies.