Created: 5/1/1982

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The USSR Academy of Sciences: Independence and Political Control

The USSR Academy of Sciences:olitical Control

,u) Ofpri

Office Of Central Refr'-Mce. COJiifiwnW amitii.'v

The USSK Academy of Sciences: Independence and Political Control

Keyprestigious USSR Academy of Sciences, lone relatively independent of

control by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is now more under the influence of the party than it has ever been before. In fact, the potenua! now exists for the party to dominate academy policy. The extern of party influence can be seen in:

growih of party membership among academy members. Since the academy'sI elections, for the first time in iis history, two-thirds of its members have belonged to the party.

growing integration of the academy leadership into both the party and the government structures

The growth of party influence is impressive and could have significant results:

science would increase its emphasis on applied (results Opposed to basicesearch.

That emphasis would weaken the underlying framework of Soviet science and reduce chances for future scientific breakthroughs.

Political expediency would supersede scientific integrity and hinder real scientific advancement.

scientists would tend to promise more than they couldmuch as Soviet industry docslose their credibility wiih the Soviet leadership.

To the United States the primary relevance of ihe poli.icization and consequent decline of Soviet science wouldrobably accelerated effort by the Sovietwhateverobtain advanced technology from theecreasing ability by Soviet science to provide the results that the Soviet leaders arcenergy, more productive agriculture, and more efficientsurely lead to an increased reliance by those Icadets or technology transfer.

Despite these efforts by theeturnhe moderately high levels of US-Sovicl scientific cooperation thai existed in theould be unlikely, even if general bilateral relations improved significantly;US scientists would hesitate to cooperate with Soviet counterparts whom

they perceived to be preoccupied more with political than with sci .ntific


would probably diverge with potential Soviet participants being interested in applied research topics (and existing US technology) and their US counterparts preferring baste research.

The USSR Academy of Sciences: Independence and Political Control

The Academy of Sciencesthe lending scientific organization in :hc Sovieiountry thai places extraordinary emphasis on the potenlial benefit of science to the state. Ever since the7 revolution. Soviet leaders have looked to science toeading role in the "building ofhe developmentodem industrial and military State. Partly because of the reverence wjih which ihe Kremlin has regarded science and partly because of lhc long history and strong traditions ofear-old academy, that institution has been suhjeel lo less control by the Communist Parly of the Soviet Union fCPSU) than any other major Soviet organization

Party pressure nn and control over lhc academy have increased, however, as Soviet leaders have become dissatisfied >vith the oiganization's scientific output The party has pressured the reademy to place more emphasis on applied, goal-directed research than on bask research, ihe traditional preference ofcademy members, fhc party has alsn grownabout what ilhc unacceptable degree of nonconformity in the academy, asby dissident Academician Andrcy Sakharov

Since the most recent biennial membership elections. for the first tunc in the history of ihe academy more than two-thirds of its members arc also parly members.wo-thirds majority is lhc margind tn chance academy statutes affecting lhc organization's siruciuic and operation; lhc party is nowetter position to dominalc lhc academy's internal siructurc and thereby conlrol lhc academy lhan it has ever been before. Theof this change in the party presence in lhc academy are perhaps best understood in the context of ihe role of ihe academy in Soviet scientific life and of ihe relative mficpendener with which the academy has operated in lhc pasi

Back ground and Structure

Since lhc lime of Tsar Peter the Great, who founded lhc forerunner of the USSR Academy of Sciences4 as parieneral effort to WesternizeRussia through scientific-based progress, aelement of lhc academy's history has been lhc linkage of science and progress. An institution with little love for Marxism at the time of7 revolution, the academy survived that upheaval while other tsarist institutions were destroyed I( did so mainly because the leaders of the new.hose of theidentified scientificwith national development.

The academy did not merely endure the revolution however itargely honorary body wiih almost no institutional base of its Ownt Subsequentlyapid expansion inof boih members and subordinate organizations (an academicianui! academy member)

Mr mtxn


here were onlynstitutes Subordinate lo the academy; now there arc

Today the academy dominates science in the Sovic; Union Subordinate i0 3nd fundede Council of Ministers, the lop government body, lhc academy is


responsible for ihc developmenl of all basic SCiCiiliHc research in flic country.orks closely with lhc State Planning Committee (Gosplan) and the State Comrnitice for Science andKiN'T) in implementing science policy andthe relationship between science and the economy. While ihc forma! responsibility for formulatingpolicy rests *ith the CPSU, the party relies heavily on the academy for advice.

To carry out its role, the academy has an enormous organization employing0 scientific workeisariety of subordinate bodies:

Moreeparate scientific establishments.

cienlilic councils, committees, commissions, and associations.

A publishing house, Naukahich issues morecientific journals, in addition to other publications.

Regional centers and affiliates throughout the country

In addition, the aca-fWy maintains close relations withepublic academics of sciences, each of which maintains-an organization parallel to that of the national academy: in all, the republic academies have morenstitutes

Large though it is, the academy directly controlsercent of the total scientific manpower of the Soviet Union. This percentage is disproportionately influential, however. Typically, the leading instituteield of scientific research is subordinate to the academy. More importantly, every major institute is directed by one of the academy's members

and members arc electedwo-thirds majority of the academy's General Assembly. The chief scientific secretary, the "partys selected by the academyhis elect oral U'OCcss is central to the organization's tradition and prestige and is the most significant baTricr between the academy and complete party control

To both present and prospective members,in the academyighly desirable status: membership, whether as academician ormember,igh level ofifetime stipend, access to special stores, opportunities toand other benefits. "Politicians" arc arriong Ihose who have found membership desirable, and theprocess has been vulnerable to some political presssure. For example, losif Stalin was elected an honorary member of the academyew current members are also more politician than scientist:

DzhermenKNT deputy chairman and the son-in-law of former Premier Aleksey Kosy-gin. managed to gel elected9 by collecting on lOUs from members throughout ihc academy.


The past ability of the academy to maintain an independent role- ihat is. to manage its own affairs 3nd to allow its individual members io ciprcss ilieirbeen based primarily on its electoralhe academy is the only organization in the Soviet Union thatenuinely competitive secret ballot lo choose its members and leaders. [Except for the chief scientific secretary, all officers

Chief Scicniific Secretary Gcorgiy Skrya-hin, considered by many of his colleagues lo bearty hackcientist, was also elected9 (aflcr twice being rejected).

On the whole, however, the electoral process has held back the politicizalion of the academy. Mosthave been rejected for membership, and those who have become corresponding members have found it difficult to achieve academician status. Forcorrcspondinfi member Sergey Trapeznikov. the chief of the Science and Educational Institutions Depanment of the CPSU Central Committeerotege of party General Secretary Leonidwas the only one ofomirter refused elevationjekmician itatui

The academy has alto displayed some independence from the party through its expulsion process. Once elected, members can be eipelled for "anti-Soviet" activities, but.he case of eled-on. expulsionwo-thirds majority of the Generalby secret ballot. Members have beenthree have been since the end of Woild Warmost of them have been political figures rather than scientists

The academy has been reluctant to expel trueboth for feur ofrecedent and out of

genuine sympathy with their political views orachievements. Dissident physicist Andrey Sakh-arov has been censured by the academy Presidium, vilified in the press, stripped of his state honors, and exiled from Moscow, but nrrexpulsion proceedings have been undertakenf the probability that any such motion would fail.

Growing Party Influence

Between7 revolution and, it was usually sufficient for members of the academy to serve the state;bership was perhapsdesirable but was in norerequisite for election. Despite repeated interventions in its affairs by the party during that period, the academylargely independent

In the pastowever, pjrty influence in the academy ha; been increasing. This trend is perhaps best seen in ihe steady growth in party membership among academicians Untilbout half the academicians belonged to the party. Of thenow living.ercent of those elecled7 percent of those elected during, andercent of those elected duringrc party members. In1 election,ercent of the new academicians were parly members

1 election resultsatershed: nowercent of the current academicians1 belong to theratio necessary lo enact statutory changes. (Seclthough party discipline is probably imperfect, the growingof party membershe academy means that the potential exists for party rolky and academy policy lo become synonymous

The trend toward pdrly domination is even more pronounced in lhc academypresiden-cy and thefact that probably reflects the parly's concern about the academy's direction.

cademy presidents had not been party members. Since ihen, (hey have been, and il now

seem* highly improbableonpartywould be elected to lhat post.

The percentage of party members inmcrnbcr Presidium, which has always been higher than lhat in the general membership, has been growing:ercent0 andercent0 toercent currently. All of the si* academy vice presidents belong to the parly, as do all bui Ihree of thecademician secretaries. The seven membeis of the Presidium who are not party members are either clearlyeiample.loyalist Nikolayhighlyexample. Nobel Prize laureate Pctr Ka-pitia

Members of the academy haveome well integrated into the structures of both lhc CPSU and the Soviet Government. Currently, on the party side:

Twelve academy members arc d' -lein'jers of the CPSUouimilicc, and fiv ;re candidate mem her*.

Two arc members of the party's Central Auditing Commission.

One. historian Boris Ponomarev.f the top party organization, the Politburo.





In addition. Brezhnev's personal physician, cardiolo gist Yevgcniy Chazov. is an academician.

limiting Factors

the government skle.

Thirty-two members of the academy arc serving in the Supreme Soviet.

Three hold ministerial-level positions in theGKNT Chairman Guriyormer academy vice president; Chairman of the State Committee for Hydromeieorology andControl Vuriy IzraeP; and Minister of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education Vyachcslav Yclyuttn.

Three other memb-rs hold positions at the deputy minister level.

Although ibe membership figures suggest increasing parly domination of the academy, that inference must be qualified. Many academicians may have ioined the party for career rather than for ideological reasons In recent years, for eiample. academicians have tended to join the party at an earlier average age lhan scientists who joined in the past. That patternthat the current generation ofambilious young scientists perceive party membership as morefor career growth than did their predecessors. Other CPSU members in the academy's ranks may aecept the ideological precepts of the party bui not its discipline and may give their first loyalty to the academy. Thus the apparently solid two-thirdsof party members could - wale behind the safety of the secret ballot


While increasing its representation within thethe party has aiso accelerated its directin academy affairs The most blatant example in recent years was its interference in the5 presidential election (in which current academy President Anatoliy Alcksandiov was elected to his first term) Mstislav Keldysh. who hid been academy president1 and who was in extremely poor health, resignedefore the end of his term. Although subsequently, in the period before theseveral academicians were mentioned as front-runners for the post, the late Mikhailormer party Politburo member and ideologist with no forma1 connection with the academy, openly statedeeting of ihe General Assembly ihat Aleksandrov was ihe party's choice. The academicians obviously got the message. (Aleksandrov was reelected in

Another example of parly interference was theby the academy9 (probably at the instigation of the party) of the Interdeparlmental Coordinating Council in Leningrad. The ostensible purpose of that organization has been to conduct applied research in such areas a; shipbuilding and electrical machine building The council has also beer used, however,ehicle for Leningrad party bos* Grigoriy Romanov io control science in the area

Of the pariy's two basic concerns in regard to iheresearch and ideological

lhc la:icr appearse lhc more important,in regard to the Andrcy Sakharov affair Despite pressure fromty to convince Sakharov to change his views, the academy has been ineffectual in doing so. In fact, academy-sponsored petitions against him35 were more litmus tests of ideological conformity for those asked lo sign them than effective measures against the dissident. Many


members secretly admired both Sakharov's conviciion and his scientific ability. Thus thecase has probably convinced parly hardliners mat the academy should be under tighter control

Neither the pany nor the academy wants Sakharov to remain in the news; in doing so he denicmlraies the limits of the party's authority and consequentlythe academy to pressure from the party to deal more effectively with nonconformity. Such pressureole in the intervention by academy officials to end Sakharov's1 hunger strike. That intervention may have succeeded in removingfrom the front pages of the Western press, but the dissident wjs successful in gaining hisIhc immigration of his daughter-in-law to the United States. Even though it is doubtful that hunger strikes by many other Soviet citizens would be soakharov's success must rankle parly hardliners.

Because liberalization of the academy's currentrules wouldighly effective means of increasing control over individual academy members, the parly may press the academy to do so or al least to muzrle ideological nonconformists moreay of avoiding the expulsion issue was developed by the academyhen itesolution (by voice vote) that stripped membership status from Soviet emigres; only Sakharov opposed the resolution. One corresponding member. Veniamin Levich. was relieved of his membership after he immigrated to Israel. Another. Sergey Polikanov, who had gone to the West but had not formally announced histo remain there, resigned before he could be expelled. The resolution would undoubtedly be used against Sakharov in the unlikely case he were exiled to the West

Despite the clear desire of the party to stamp out ideological nonconformity in the academy, it his not yet succeeded in doing so. At preseni,cientist has been elected to thelong as he remains in the Soviet Union and the academy's expulsion statutes arefearer

ability to avoid serious repercussions for expressing independent political views ihan any other Soviet citizen.

TheAcademy President'

The party is expected to play at least asole in the selection of the next academy president as it played in the election of AleksandrovS. His reelection0 surprised many observers: he was old and ailing, and he had not provided exceptional leadership during his first term. He had apparently retained the confidence, however, of both the pany and Ihc gcncial membership of the academy. He may haveompromiseone who best fit the criteria that the academy and the party consider whenresident. Nowleksandrov may not survive his current four-year term. In any case, the academy is required by statute to hold another electionesident

Important Consideration*

The academy membership is aware that the Soviei leaders consider the post of president tooosition within the Sovieto be allowed to become sepaiatcd from lhc rest of the government and from the party. Thus, although the president is elected by secret ballot, many academy members probably feel that they can bestonfrontation, which would be extremely dangerous to the academy, by electing aacceptable to the national leaders.

Characteristicsotential president ihat both academy members and high level national officials would probably take into account in evaluating his acceptability include the following

relationship to the parly hierarchy.

reputation among other academy members.

reputation as an applied researcher

scientific specially.ocial scientist probably could not be elected,hysicist mightecided advantage.)

' His international scientific reputation.

geographic baseandidate from Moscow probubly has an advantageandidate from outside Moscow.)

strength of his base of support, whether it fs ir the party, the military, industry,roup of influential academicians

Possible Candidates

The persons mentioned most often as probable succes sors to Alcksandrov are two young vice presidents of the academy: Yuriyiologist, ar.d

Yevgtniyhysicist Both arc partyalthough Vclikhov joined much later in his


Ovchinnikov was elected to the CPSU Central Committee ath Party) and may be the party's prime candidate for the academy presidency.

rotege of Alcksandrov's who is deeply involved in classified weapons-related research, is probably the prime candidate of the Soviet military.

l he relative youth of the two men (bothayimitation on their candidacies: all but three of thecademicians are older than they. Another limitation may be tbe rivalry that cannot help but caist between them as two ambitious men seeking the same post; they may have such equal qualifications (hat they cancel each other out.

A third possible successor is Boris Paion. awho ii president of the Ukrainian Academy of Science.) and more experienced thanoung vice presidents, he also has excellent party credentials, heember of both the CPSU and the Ukrainian Communist Party Central Committees. Paton's primary weakness is that,krainian, with supporters mainly in Kiev, he is an outsider to the ethnic Russian, Moscow-based academywho might not accept him as president

Given ihe weaknesses of the three primary candidates for the academy presidency, the way may be openompromise candidate. The other vice presidents are long shots, of these, the one with the best chance is probably another physicist.gtinov.he is not particularly respected (or his


work, he possesses impressive administrative credentials (he is rector of Moscow Staten addition, heandidate member of the CPSU Centra! Committeeolitical conformist.

his term. Indeed, lie will probably reflect the overall relationship of the academy and the party at lhat time As the academy and its parly-dominatedattemptespond to probably increasing demands by the Soviet leadership" for scientificlo natiojiaj problems, the president will likely find it increasingly difficult to maintain thesemi-independent role. The pressures on him may even become so g'cat lhat he leads the academy in surrendering its independence to the party. The process of moving towardiminished academy role would ptobably be facilitated by the largeof party members in the academy ranks

Should the party prevail, the academy would become merely another arm of state and party policy. The resulting politici/.aiion of scientific activity would surely result in an emphasis nn applied science rather than basic research. Such an emphasis could in the long run damage Soviet science in several ways:

By reducing il* piestigc

By weakening its underlying theoretical framework, thereby reducing the chances for future scientific breakthroughs.

By encouraging Soviet scientists to promise more than they canas Soviet industry does current!) d thereby to lose their credibility with the Soviet leadership.

In general, political expediency would supersedeintegrity and hinder real scientific

Implications for the United States

The main significance to US policyeclinescience would be the strong probability tha'Union would increase its of ion; -bothto acquire lhc needed technologyWest. To the Soviets, loo jlogy transferthe substitute for the results lhat their


Whoever succeeds Alcksandrov willeading role in (he academy's relationship to the party during

scientists could not provide- more energy, greater agricultural production, and more sophisticated

oviet push lo increase the flow offrom the West, the United State* and the USSR arc unlikely it* return to the moderately high level of cooperation thaieached in: USwould not he cage* lo participate in coopetative activities with Soviet counterparts whom they judged to be mote interested in learning about USadvarwiments than in pursuing basic scientific inquiry.


Appendix A:

C1"SU Membership Among Active Members Of ibe USSR Academy ofScienccs




Academy Total


Percent CPSU

ii T'lPnn-jl. inJ

CcMill Ph>wa and Autonomy




Mixnd CoamoI IViutimcal


jnd Trtnnical PiobknaoJntincciini Dcpjnnxnt


Trchnicjland Biolojica!Sciences Section

Bioptiyvct. and ChcmittryActive(U'lrnrni

Itiologv Dcpjiir


r,i ol I- aiiriab Drpar

Geapliyiio. and

Physics, and tifogtapnytmcnl

Sciences Section



and li'eriHin


and U- Dcpjfi merit


lanem Srican'^


l iciJnnt Thu lahlr


bawdc" mloir.iil n.j.




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