Beleaguered scientific researchers will get a fivefold pay rise after the Russian Academy of Science reached an agreement with the Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov.
The deal, which is expected to be introduced over three years for the academy's 19,600 research associates, should boost average salaries from about 7,000 roubles (£595) to 30,000 roubles.
But the rises come at a price: up to 20 per cent of government-funded research posts will be axed, and a programme of institutional mergers at the academy will continue to cut waste. Valery Kozlov, vice-president of the academy and head of a commission on streamlining the 281-year-old institution, said savings would also come from rationalisation.
The academy has already halved the number of its divisions to nine, and earlier this year it said it would merge 40 institutes. Further rationalisation of academic institutions based on an analysis of research subjects, number of publications, participation in conferences, prizes and awards, age of staff and numbers of graduate and postgraduate students will also take place.
More of the academy's publicly funded budget would go towards wages, which would account for 60 per cent of funds by 2008, up from 45 per cent today, Mr Kozlov said.
The academy will place more emphasis on attracting private contract work.
It will also bar researchers who undertake contract work from drawing their institutional wage at the same time.
The research community has reacted coolly to the deal. Yevgeny Rogozhin, head of the RAS Institute of Earth Physics, said: "What has been offered is very imprecise. Its effectiveness also depends on how it is implemented. If salaries are increased only for senior positions and younger researchers get nothing, it will fail to address our key concern - attracting a new generation of young scientists."