Soros withdraws threat to stop research funding

August 4, 1995

The Soros Foundation has called off its threat to freeze funding for research and higher education in Belarus.

The government last week agreed that foundation money should be exempt from the 40 per cent income tax on charitable grants not distributed through government-sponsored bodies. The decision is a relief for many young scholars.

Researchers employed in the network of institutes of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences will be particularly happy. In June, the foundation promised to match $250,000 allocated to research by Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenka.

But some younger scholars doubt that the promised Belarusian contribution will materialise. The foundation has made it clear, it will match only what is delivered.

Meanwhile, the long-term decline of academe continues. Radim Haretski, vice president of the Academy of Sciences, said there has been a 50 per cent drop in personnel over the past four years, and a 30 per cent drop on those working in the academy network.

Part of this can be attributed to the end of the military-related research of the Soviet era. A major factor, he said, was the reluctance of young people to enter research. The status of academics in Soviet times ( when they held a right to extra living space) had gone. Young people had to think about making a living and increasingly turned to the new business schools, said Mr Haretski.

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