The Formation of the Soviet Academy of Sciences: Bolsheviks and Academicians in the 1920s and 1930s
Members of the Imperial/Russian/Soviet Academy of Sciences always believed in the uniqueness of the body in which they were working. In prerevolutionary Russia the academy claimed to be the supreme scientific institution in the country, the equivalent of which did not exist anywhere abroad. In the Soviet period the uniqueness of the academy as an institution continued to be emphasized. This uniqueness was enhanced by the fact that the Academy of Sciences was the only major Soviet institution that practiced multicandidate elections of its members by secret ballot, upon whose results the Communist Party could exercise only a limited influence. 1 Some members of the academy tended to credit this relative independence solely to the actions of academicians themselves. When, in 1991, the Russian government put the USSR Academy of Sciences under its own jurisdiction, the institution reverted to the name of the Russian academy and claimed to be a direct heir to its prerevolutionary predecessor. The first question to be posed by this chapter is whether one can indeed discuss the activities of prerevolutionary and Soviet academies as a "single stream" history.
This chapter argues that assertions about the uniqueness of the institution as well as about direct ties between the current and the