Russia is committing all possible war atrocities in Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian civilians are being killed, mutilated, raped, robbed of homes and basic necessities, left to die of hunger, thirst and diseases in the rubble of their besieged towns. Russia hasn’t (yet) began with Sarajevo- or Babi Yar-style mass executions, or deployed chemical or nuclear weapons, but the plans are surely all in place.
The vast majority of the zombiefied Russian public cheers on their murderous Z-swastika army, occasionally distracted with complains about sugar scarcity. Many western and even non-western-owned companies left Russia in protest. Others, among them certain French, Swiss and German giants, even plan to expand their business operations in Russia, and with their taxes to support mass murder. In any case, EU nations suddenly discovered it can’t boycott Russian fossil fuels because their entire economy is so dependent on thsoe, as if all these years we were ruled not by our own elected democratic representatives like Angela Merkel, but by Gazprom. So our political elites may be all deeply saddened and shocked about the genocide in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, the suburbs of Kyiv etc, but with our gas and oil purchases we keep funding the Russian war machine with billions every day.
Boycotting Russian science wouldn’t change much of course. But it would be an important symbolic measure. Also, it would make it more difficult for Russian secret services to spy on western technology.
Up until 24 February 2022, Russians were deemed a peace-loving nation of poets, thinkers and scholars, our European allies against the inhuman Chinese totalitarianism. Obviously we were wrong, blissfully ignoring all the evidence of wars and mass murders Putin committed in the past two decades – Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine. Russian society may have been proud of Lev Tolstoy’s and Andrei Sakharov’s international fame, but the nation was wiping its arse with their anti-war teachings.
Russia must be completely cut off from the civilized society, not just in business, but also in culture, sports and, yes, also in science. This boycott should hit every Russian working for the regime, but we should welcome and support those who oppose or at least escape it. Also, we should treat every zombified putinist in our midst the same way we would treat a swastika-wearing Nazi. Sack your putin-loving postdoc, if they chose blatant lies over reality, how can you trust their science anyway? Let them whine about “russophobia”.
The boycott must not end when the Ukraine war will be over. It must be maintained until at least the biggest Russian war criminals were put on trial and sentenced for crimes against humanity. Until Putin’s future successor does in Ukraine what German Chancellor Willy Brand did in Poland in 1970, 25 years after the end of World War II – begging for forgiveness for his nation’s past atrocities. Then we can consider dealing with Russia, its businesses, its culture and its science again.
But instead, many scientists are against the boycott of their peers. After all, they keep saying science is not political and scientists are the superhuman paragons of ethics and decency. Surely the aloof professors are innocent and have no connection to their regime!
Scientists may think of themselves as ethereal souls without a sin or malice, but in reality science is always political and scientists are just as human, fallible and blameable as everyone else. If you are not new to For Better Science, you will agree.
Feel free to read about the science in the Third Reich. One name: Prof Dr Wernher von Braun. Another: Dr Josef Mengele and his mentor Prof Dr Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer. And there were many more. Even the charming scholar of bird behaviour, Prof Dr Konrad Lorenz, was a Nazi who endorsed “racial hygiene”. Prof Dr Hans Asperger (after whom the autism disorder is named) personally dispatched autistic children for sadistic medical experiments and euthanasia.
Russian scientists are just an integral part of their fascist state as German scientists were an integral part of the Third Reich. Boycotting their science won’t be a great loss anyway. Let me give you some examples.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and its fake low mortality numbers, top medical scholars have been forging cancer statistics to assure Putin of Russian superiority. Faking statistics is Russian speciality, and of course there are officially hardly any losses on Russian side in the “special military Operation” (aka war crimes) in Ukraine.
Soon after the pandemic started, Sputnik V arrived, followed by at least two more Russian COVID-19 vaccines, all made by Russia’s top research institutions, all at least 100% safe and 100% efficient. The West eagerly believed these lies because Sputnik’s fake data kept passing peer review in The Lancet (one more reason to ban Russian science). Up until 24 February 2022, our politicians were very keen to get Sputnik V not just approved, but even produced in Europe. We used to be so angry at WHO and EMA for being mistrustful towards the incomplete data Russia provided, our scientists were queuing to collaborate with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which generously rewarded those willing to provide the right Sputnik V results. Suddenly, nobody is in a hurry to get a Sputnik V shot these days and RDIF is under sanctions anyway.
Speaking of Russian science elites. Look at this stupid fascist blob in charge of the allegedly prestigious Kurchatov institute, Mikhail Kovalchuk (brother of Putin’s moneyman, the oligarch Yuri Kovalchuk). Whenever that “physicist” opens his pie-hole, vile fascist manure combined with incredible scientific illiteracy comes out. Like last year, when Kovalchuk explained that solar panels and wind mills were being deployed by Germany in Ukraine as a secret infrasound weapon against Russia. For warmongering fascist drivel like this, Putin gave Kovalchuk a medal.
Russian science, like everything else there, is controlled by morons and crooks whose only qualifications are nepotism and bum-licking. In a totalitarian society, competent people are sacked or pushed to the margins of irrelevance, those who get promoted qualify by being loyal idiots, kleptocrats, alcohol and drug addicts, thus incapable of critical thinking, and no danger to the system. This is true for Russian science and everything else, including the Russian military, which is also why this “second mightiest army in the world” is afraid of Ukrainian defences and uses most of its firepower against civilians.
So here is an example of outright fascist pseudoscience in Russian academia. Let me introduce you to a recent Presidential Grant proposal for Putin to personally approve:
Identification of Lenin’s corpse and transfer of the corpse to the USA
Lenin is not Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, born in 1870. It is necessary to obtain DNA samples from the corpse of Lenin in the mausoleum in Moscow and the graves of Lenin’s children in the United States. It is necessary to perform a set of procedural actions and examinations with the participation of Russian and foreign laboratories. Part of the work will be carried out by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. But most of the work is not provided for by the budgets of departments. In this regard, it is necessary to organize the work and payment of specialists, as well as business trips of experts to the United States, the work of specialists, lawyers in Russia and the United States. The instructions for the identification of corpses, approved by the order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs No. 213 of 1993 (DSP), as well as those that comply with the requirements of US and UK laws, must be followed so that the results of the work carried out are accepted in Russia, in the USA and in the UK.
- Perpetuation of the memory of prominent people and significant events of the past
- Perpetuation of the memory of prominent people and significant events of the past
- Removal of accusations against Russia in the revolution of 1917.
- Removal of charges against Russia in the murder of the royal family, the Romanovs.
- Removal of charges against Russia for the Red Terror.
- Recognition of all documents signed by Lenin-Ulyanov as a forgery of documents. Example: The decree on the creation of Ukraine in 1917 signed by Lenin-Ulyanov is a forgery of documents of a later time. Ukraine does not exist?
- Changing the history of the 20th century in all history textbooks of all countries of the world.
- Removal of charges against Russia for the revolution in China and the related genocide
Substantiation of social significance
It is necessary to identify the corpse of Lenin and transfer the corpse of Lenin to the United States. This is their citizen.
I am sure this grant, submitted by a private “Centre for Independent expertise on car transport“, will be approved and will deliver the promised results. After all, it fits the “science” Putin wants to see, which seeks to determine that Vladimir Lenin was actually a US agent (not even ethnically Russian! Probably Jewish!) who had the Czar family murdered on behalf of CIA, same for the the Bolshevik terror, except Stalin’s terror of course which was perfectly justified, and of course Ukraine was a US invention meaning the Ukrainian people are all US agents and must be exterminated to protect the Russian nation.
The publication of this Presidential Grant proposal under peer review is proof enough that Russian science is fascist trash and must be boycotted. There is a debate (like here in Nature) about whether journals should boycott authors from Russia. They should in my view, but it is a pointless debate anyway. All the big publishers, Elsevier, Springer Nature et al, recognised already in 2015 the occupied Ukrainian Crimea peninsula as part of Russia. And they have absolutely no problem with publishing Russian papermill fraud. What can you expect from these businesses anyway? As academic editor or reviewer, you can at least make this business difficult and refuse to handle manuscripts from Russians institutions, thus boycotting Russian science.
The German DFG went this important step, others should follow suit. The national research founder announced already on 2 March 2022:
“With immediate effect, the German Research Foundation (DFG) is suspending all of its funded research projects between scientists from Germany and Russia. At the same time, funding applications for new German-Russian cooperation and continuation applications for ongoing projects will not be accepted until further notice. […]
In concrete terms, no data, samples, devices or other scientific material should be exchanged in the existing cooperation projects with immediate effect. Likewise, no joint events should be held. The financing of the Russian parts of joint projects will be stopped until further notice, the German project shares will continue to be financed. […]
Researchers who have currently applied for a scholarship abroad for Ukraine or Russia can change their applications and specify other target countries. Scholarships that have already been approved should not be started. Ongoing grants may be converted to domestic grants or positions; here, too, there is the possibility of moving to another country.
In addition, the DFG offers support to researchers from Ukraine and Russia as part of its initiative for refugee researchers.”
This is exactly the right approach, which finds the perfect balance between sanctioning Russian terror state and supporting dissident scientists fleeing it.
And while the western academia debates if it’s fair to boycott their peers in Russia, there is this (hattip Meduza.io):
Support Scholars Affected by the Russian Aggression in Ukraine
Open Letter from Russian-Speaking Academic Diaspora
The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a major humanitarian crisis. At the time of this writing, March 19, 2022, more than 3 million Ukrainians, including 1 million children, have fled to neighboring countries to escape the war. The Ukrainian people are under direct attack, and they need our immediate support!
Russian citizens who oppose the war are subject to arrest and persecution; over two hundred thousand of them are estimated to have already left their country. At the same time, many citizens of Belarus have left their own country for similar reasons.
The war has inflicted immeasurable pain on the scholarly community in Ukraine and devastation on the Russian and Belarusian academia.
Support displaced Ukrainian students and scholars
In addition to offering moral support to our Ukrainian colleagues, we strive to provide them with access to laboratories and research centers across the globe. Some members of the international academic community have pledged their support by offering to host Ukrainian colleagues in their research facilities across North America and in other countries. The Russian academic diaspora has joined this effort, but more should be done. By supporting the careers of displaced students and scholars, we can take a tangible part in promoting the rapid rebuilding of post-war Ukraine and mitigating the socio-economic implications of this war.
Emergency funding is needed to enable participating laboratories and research centers across the EU, US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and other countries to provide on-site and remote training and job opportunities for displaced students and scholars from Ukraine. Some have been displaced, together with their dependents and close relatives, young and old, and we need immediate solutions to keep their families together. Concerted efforts should be made without delay to create short and long-term fellowships and to provide visa support, rapid immigration procedures, and travel assistance.
Support Russian and Belarusian students and scholars
We need to distinguish between the sanctions on the Russian government and how we treat Russian students and scholars who oppose the war. The war in Ukraine is Putin’s war, not theirs. People in the sciences and the humanities have consistently opposed Putin’s regime in multiple ways since long before the current events and have taken a brave stance against the war. Anti-war protesters in Russia, mostly young professionals, are being arrested and can be imprisoned for up to 15 years under a recently enacted Russian law.
With the growing suppression of free speech by the Russian government, on the one hand, and the negative impact of Western sanctions, on the other, the anti-war Russian students and scholars are in double jeopardy. They are at risk of international isolation and increased state persecution, especially in face of massive internet shutdowns and the tightening stranglehold on information. The same applies to Belarusian scholars suffering under the Lukashenko regime.
Some of these scholars remain in their countries; others have chosen to flee. We strongly encourage all our colleagues to keep their individual connections and support Russian and Belarusian professionals who oppose the war but cannot leave the country for various reasons. As for those fleeing Russia and Belarus in fear of state persecution, they qualify for refugee status and need support from academe and governments.
We call on the international academic community to commit our time and effort to support Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarussian scholars affected by this war. Together we must help those in need to continue their work and education and ultimately build a better future for their countries and humankind.
Add your signature using the google form: https://forms.gle/Bo2Ppa9Lgrr96sQf8. By co-signing the document, you support the call made on behalf of the Russian-speaking academic diaspora.
Note that even the Russian scientists abroad do not ask you to continue working with Russian academic institutions, but to support fleeing dissidents instead.
We all can do something. Boycott the murderous Russian Fascist state, all of its institutions, and those who collaborate with it.
Слава Україні! Героям слава!
Please find charities to donate to at the end of this article. Prof Timothy Snyder lists Ukrainian army and civilian help charities in US, Europe and Ukraine here. Or donate to a humanitarian charity project of your choice. Ukrainians are fighting for all of us.