Can Research and Development
Recover in Russia?
Our society no longer sees in science the main source of material and moral values; it no longer deems science to be an honorable or useful activity.
A senior Russian scientist, September 1993
As we have seen, false starts have plagued conversion efforts at hundreds of research institutes that at one time carried out major R&D programs for the defense establishment. Without foreign intervention, most researchers have either simply marked time while thinking about their futures or have abandoned their laboratories altogether. Foreign financial support and foreign collaborators have brought a few bright spots to the otherwise lackluster conversion efforts. At the same time, many of these institutes continue to pursue dramatically scaled-back weapons programs; others no longer have any financial ties to their earlier benefactors in the defense establishment.
Thousands of institutes and enterprises that had little or no defense role in the past struggle to find their places in the rapidly changing economic scene. They too had been highly subsidized wards of the state, and very few have been able to adjust to the drying up of their annual subventions from a variety of ministries and state committees.
The sudden emphasis on conversion uncovered few, if any, new areas of R&D. For example, almost all activities supported by the ISTC are in fields of R&D that had long been within the responsibilities of civilian research organizations of the Soviet Union, and now Russia. Indeed, historically there was hardly an area of science and engineering, however remote from immediate Soviet interests, that did not receive at least token support from the government. This effort to