Alexander Gorsky from the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, or ITEP, is one of the world’s leading physicists and a critic of the reorganization of the academy by the Putin Administration. He has now been fired for going to the United States for an academic conference for “truancy.” Four physicists have announced their resignations from the academic council in protest. The Institute has been taken over by a Putin ally, Mikhail Kovalchuk (right).
Gorsky traveled to Stony Brook in New York to present a paper that was published in an international journal the year before. The ITEP administration ordered that he secure a cooperation agreement from Stony Brook as well as a security clearance for the talk. He said it was nonsense since the paper was published publicly the year before.
The faculty members denounced the firing as a pretense by new Putin appointees who run the institute who targeted one of their critics.
The scientists complain that the government has taken over their academy much like other areas of the Russian research and educational institutions. We previously discussed another such controversy. The Putin government moved the institute out of the state nuclear corporation Rosatom and into the newly created Kurchatov Institute Research Center several years ago. That center was then handed over by the Putin government to Putin ally Mikhail Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk’s younger brother Yury is the chairman and biggest shareholder of the Kremlin-linked Bank Rossiya, which was sanctioned after the Crimea takeover and is widely called Putin’s “cashier” as the personal bank for Putin and his ruling elite.
The scientists complain that the Putin officials have slashed their salaries while pushing them to secure commercial contracts. Gorsky was the leading voice in that criticism. Earlier, the same officials demoted another critic, deputy research director, Mikhail Danilov. Others expect the cleansing of critics to continue.
Putin seems now completely unchecked in such authoritarian actions. Much like earlier Russian strongmen, he views intellectuals with particular suspicion and they appear to be taken the brunt of the gradual aggregation of power in Russia. It is another example of how he and his minions continue to drag the country back to Soviet style management and policies.
Source: Moscow Times