Russian Academy of Sciences

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Russian Academy of Sciences
founding February 8, 1724
Sponsorship state
place Moscow , Russia
president Alexander Sergejew
(since September 2017)
The headquarters of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, known as the “Golden Brain”, was built in 1989

The Russian Academy of Sciences ( RAW ; Russian Российская академия наук  - Rossijskaja Akademija Nauk , RAN for short ) is the national academy of sciences in Russia .

It was founded in 1724 and was called the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1925 to 1991 (Академия наук СССР). Today it is the highest ranking research institution in the Russian Federation with 13 specialist departments, three regional departments, 15 regional science centers and numerous science and research institutions throughout Russia. The academy's headquarters were originally in Saint Petersburg , but moved to Moscow in 1934 .

Goals and structure

Facade fragment with clock of the Moscow RAN headquarters


The Russian Academy of Sciences is essentially a working group of Russian scientists, divided into academic members (i.e. full members) and corresponding members, as well as academic employees and other scholars and specialists. With the science and research organizations run by the Academy, it is the main center of fundamental research in the field of natural and social sciences in Russia. Outstanding personalities who are not Russian citizens can become foreign members.

The full members of the RAN are entitled to bear the academic title Academicus (Acad.) In front of the name, which is regarded as a symbol of the highest recognition.

At the beginning of April 2020 - taking into account the results of the last election of new academy members, which took place in November 2019 - there were 887 full, 1134 corresponding and 486 foreign members (see lists of names). The peculiarity of the 2019 election as well as the penultimate election in 2016 was a fairly large proportion of the advertisements with an upper age limit, with the candidate younger than 51 (2016) or 56 (2019) for a corresponding membership and younger than 61 (2016) for full membership ) should be. The next election is expected in 2022.

Since 2015, the academy has also been conferring the status / honorary title of Professor of RAN on top Russian researchers. The number of holders of this title is now 605; 137 of these people have already become corresponding members and the 3 professors have even become full members.

The organizational structure of the Academy brings together a wide network of research institutes and laboratories involved in research in most areas of modern science. Exceptions to this are education, the arts as well as architecture and construction: Russia has separate academic academies for these areas, which, like the RAN, are state-run research umbrella organizations.

The academy is a state organization that operates in accordance with legislation and its own statute. The latter is only accepted or changed by the general assembly of the RAN without state interference. The Academy carries out free supervision over the control of the activities of institutes, laboratories and other bodies in the field of basic research and training of specialists.


The primary goals of the Russian Academy of Sciences include fundamental research in the field of natural, social and human sciences, which should also contribute to promoting the social and intellectual development of Russian society. This also includes the selection and promotion of talented young researchers. Diverse research work using high-quality personnel is also intended to increase the reputation of science and the social status of academics in Russia. In addition, the RAN pursues the goal of promoting the mutual integration of research activities in the academy, universities and industry in order to achieve as many synergies as possible between science, education and culture and thus to implement a common scientific and technical policy in the country.

In order to increase the efficiency of its activities, the RAN promotes international cooperation between Russian and foreign scientists, among other things through cooperation agreements with foreign academies of science and other research organizations. She also sets up international research centers in Russia and conducts international congresses, conferences and seminars.


President of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been the physicist Alexander Sergejew since September 27, 2017 (his family name is sometimes translated as "Sergeev" or "Sergeyev"); the term of office is five years.

The Academy's Presidium consists of 78 members, including the President, who, like Sergeyev, were elected by the RAN General Assembly at the end of September 2017. Among them are the eleven vice-presidents; one of these is the mathematician Valery Kozlov , who served as president from March to September. There are representatives from all specialist and regional departments in the Presidium. With a few exceptions, they are academic members of the RAN. Both the President personally and the entire Presidium are accountable to the General Assembly of RAN.

Technical and regional departments

The current (as of 2017) RAN is divided into thirteen specialist departments as well as three regional departments and 15 regional scientific centers.

The specialist departments of the Russian Academy of Sciences are:

The building of the RAN Institute for Macromolecular Compounds in Saint Petersburg
RAW innovation center in Chernogolovka

The last four departments mentioned did not exist until 2014. They appeared because of the affiliation of former state academies of medicine and agricultural sciences to the RAN, as well as because of a number of restructurings.

Each specialist department has a certain number of research institutions that specialize in certain narrower areas of activity. In many cases these are research institutes in a specific field. Some of these institutes are internationally known, such as the WINITI information center , the Steklow Institute for Mathematics or the Lebedev Institute .

In addition, the RAN is divided according to regional presence: it has three regional departments - the Siberia department in Novosibirsk , the Urals department in Yekaterinburg and the Far East department in Vladivostok - as well as a total of 15 science centers in Vladikavkaz , Dagestan , Kabardino-Balkaria , Kazan , the Republic Karelia , on Kola , in Chernogolovka , Pushchino , Samara , Saint Petersburg , Nizhny Novgorod , Saratov , Troitsk , Ufa and Rostov-on-Don .


18th and 19th centuries

The founding of the Russian Academy of Sciences was one of the components of the reforms of Tsar Peter I, the Great , which primarily aimed to modernize the Russian state and thus also bring its science and research to a level comparable with leading European countries bring to. All of the state's most strategically important scientific and research activities should be combined under the umbrella of one institution. The latter should belong to the state and also be subordinate to it. This aspect differentiated the newly founded Russian Academy of Sciences from comparable institutions in other European countries, which could enjoy more autonomy from the state.

The founding date of the academy is February 8, 1724, when the decree initiated by Peter the Great on the establishment of the academy was passed by the governing senate . The solemn founding act of the new academy, which had its seat in the new capital Saint Petersburg , was celebrated on December 27, 1725. Its first president was the renowned physician Lorenz Blumentrost (1692–1755). In the early days, the academy was divided into three departments according to their main fields of activity: mathematical , physical - natural science and humanities . Peter the Great, who was very interested in science and technology and regarded the establishment of the academy as one of his most important reform projects, continued to campaign for the new institution to gain prestige not only within Russia. For this purpose, a number of well-deserved foreign academics were invited to Petersburg and appointed members of the academy, including Nikolaus and Daniel Bernoulli , Christian Goldbach , Georg Bernhard Bilfinger , Joseph-Nicolas Delisle , Leonhard Euler and Gerhard Friedrich Müller . In addition, the academy received several important scientific institutions in the country under its administration, including the Petersburg Art Chamber , an astronomical observatory, a botanical garden, an anatomical theater and a printing house.

The former headquarters of the Academy in Saint Petersburg. Today the
Petersburg Chamber of Art is housed in the baroque palace built in 1734 .
Building of the former academy in Saint Petersburg

The academy's extensive infrastructure and the collaboration of renowned domestic and foreign researchers have resulted in outstanding achievements in various areas of Russian science just a few decades after it was founded. The geoscientific department was able to produce the first complete geographic map of Russia as early as 1745. The most important achievements of the academy in the first years of its existence include the many discoveries made by the polymath Mikhail Lomonossow in the natural and geoscientific fields, Euler's mathematical research and several research expeditions into previously undeveloped areas of the Russian Empire , including the Second Kamchatka Expedition . From 1728 the academy published its own research journal in Latin.

In the course of the 19th century, too, the academy's activities were characterized by outstanding academic achievements. In this context, for example, the first Russian circumnavigation of the world in the years 1803-1806 under the command of Johann Krusenstern and the discovery of Antarctica in 1820 during an expedition by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Michail Lasarews should be mentioned . In 1841 the Petersburg Academy for the Russian Language, which was founded in 1783 and whose members included famous writers such as the poets Derschavin and Pushkin , was incorporated into the Academy of Sciences as a specialist department for the Russian language. Pafnuti Tschebyscheff , also a member of the academy , did important work in the field of mathematics and statistics in the 19th century . In the late 19th century and in the first years of the 20th century, the academy was the place of work for world-famous Russian scientists such as Dmitri Mendeleev , Alexander Butlerow and Vladimir Vernadski . Two academy members, namely the physicians Ivan Pawlow and Ilya Metschnikow , were among the first to receive the Nobel Prize .

Academy of Sciences of the USSR

During the period of political upheaval in Russia following the October Revolution in 1917, the former Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences was initially faced with an uncertain future, also because a not inconsiderable number of its members were openly opposed to the Bolshevik takeover of power . Nevertheless, research continued in the first few years after the revolution. The most important activities of the 1920s included research into the huge Kursk magnetic anomaly in southwest Russia, the mineral resources of the Kola Peninsula and the development of the GOELRO state plan for nationwide electrification of the country. In addition, extensive structural reforms were carried out within the academy in the early 1920s. The first research institutes were set up within the academy , and by 1925 the number of academic employees at the academy had increased fourfold compared to 1917.

The October Revolution of 1917 brought about an important change. As early as 1918, the later Union Republics of the Soviet Union began to form their own academies of sciences - the first of which was the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine , which was established that year . In 1925, the Russian Academy of Sciences received the status of the superordinate science and research institution of the Soviet Union. It was officially renamed the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1934 their headquarters were relocated to the capital Moscow , where it is still located today. At the end of the 1930s, the number of specialist departments at the academy was already eight.

The hybrid computer HRS-100 developed in 1971 in the Academy of Sciences of the USSR

In addition to extensive structural changes, the work of the academy in the 20th century was primarily characterized by the rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union , which at that time created an enormous need for research, especially in various areas of the natural sciences. The military successes of the Soviet state that ultimately brought it superpower status - including the development of the first Soviet atomic bomb - were in many cases due to renowned academics. Other research priorities within the academy during the Soviet era include the development of the Soviet space program , the development of numerous new raw material deposits by geologists, but above all work in nuclear research and other areas of physics. There were a particularly large number of physicists among the Soviet Nobel Prize winners: 1958 Pavel Cherenkov , Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm , 1962 Lev Landau , 1964 Nikolai Bassow and Alexander Prokhorov , 1978 Pyotr Kapiza .

In the post-war period in particular, regional departments of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and large science centers in cities such as Akademgorodok , Dubna , Troitsk , Pushchino and Chernogolovka were established in several regions of the Soviet Union . In addition, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was instrumental in the establishment of many new universities on the territory of the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union , the end of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR as such was sealed. On November 21, 1991, the academy was renamed the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) following a decree by the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin . On the territory of the Russian Federation, RAN became the legal successor to the former Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

At the same time, shortly after the end of the Soviet state, the academy again experienced a phase of uncertain future, when the RAN ceased to function as a superordinate academy with the formation of independent states from former republics of the Soviet Union and the former republic academies now became independent. In addition, there was a severe economic decline throughout Russia in the early 1990s, which also plunged the Academy of Sciences into extreme financial difficulties. This crisis, which resulted in a migration of many highly qualified but poorly paid scientific staff to the USA and other European countries, lasted around a decade. The consequences of the underfunding of the RAN can still be felt today: The average age of the scientific equipment at the RAN doubled between 1990 and 2006 from 7.5 to around 15 years.

Reform (2013-2018)

In 2013-2018 the reform of the State Academies of Science in Russia was carried out, with the following measures:

  • The Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences were attached to the RAN, thereby creating the new specialist departments of the expanded RAN.
  • The so-called Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations - FAWO ( Russian Федеральное агентство научных организаций - ФАНО России ) was established, under whose jurisdiction the property and real estate were transferred to RAN.
  • The evaluation of the research institutes of the RAN was carried out and on this basis the institutes were grouped into three categories: the leading, middle and weak (the latter can be restructured later).
  • The salaries of research assistants rose to twice the average public service salary in the respective region; in addition, the Russian Science Fund ( Russian Российский научный фонд - РНФ ) was set up, whose grants are more valuable than those of similar foundations that have been functioning up to now.
  • Relatively young generations were actively involved in the work in directorates of the RAN institutes; A number of age restrictions were also introduced in the choice of academy members.
  • The RAN has been assigned the main role for the technical expertise of the large state projects.

The merger of the academies, the initiative with the new fund and the increase in the proportion of young researchers in managerial positions are generally viewed positively or neutrally.

But the transfer of the ownership of the RAN to FAWO created mistrust in the scientific community. Allegedly, this step should serve to free the researchers from such minor issues as maintenance work on the buildings. Nevertheless, there was and still is the suspicion that the property will ultimately end up in the hands of those in power or even criminals, and that the academy will ultimately take it away. The protests against this handover were particularly strong at the beginning of the 2013 reform, also because this reform was initiated quite spontaneously. The ideologues of the reform initially intended to abolish the three academies altogether and to found a new state-public organization to replace them. Because of vigorous protests, also at the international level, the reform law was "softened". Gradually the situation has calmed down to some extent.

The end of the reform was officially announced during the general assembly of the RAN in March 2018.

On May 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin abolished FAWO. At the same time, the previous Ministry of Education and Science was split into two separate ministries - one for education (encompassing education, school and vocational training) and one for science and university affairs. The latter must include the former structure of the FAWO and continue to administer the RAN institutes.

Fire 2015

Destroyed INION library (2015)

A fire on January 30 and 31, 2015 in the building of the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences (INION RAN) in Moscow destroyed larger parts of the building, in particular the library. Numerous valuable documents were destroyed or seriously damaged. The destroyed holdings include a unique collection of UN documents. State media launched a smear campaign against Yuri Piwovarov , director of the institute at the time of the fire, and against Kremlin critics. Among other things, the scientist was accused of making pacts with NATO and of being responsible for corruption in the institute. The Law Enforcement Committee of the Russian Federation finally opened a case of negligence against Piwovarov in connection with the fire on April 20, 2015.

President of the Academy

Appointed Presidents:

Directors appointed to head the Academy during Razumovsky's presidency (sometimes several at the same time):

Elected Presidents:

Note: 1924–1991 Academy of Sciences of the USSR ; Source: official list

Well-known members of the academy (selection)

Below is a selection of prominent national (academic or corresponding) and foreign members of the Russian and Soviet Academy of Sciences. For a more comprehensive list of members see also Category: Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences .

Foreign members

Leonhard Euler

Russian / Soviet members

Mikhail Lomonosov

Commemorative coins

Silver commemorative coin from 1992
The commemorative coin dedicated to the RAN, issued in 1999

In 1992 a Russian commemorative coin was issued in honor of the Academy as part of the series “1000 Years of Russia” . In addition, in 1999, on the occasion of its 275th anniversary, the Russian Academy of Sciences was immortalized on a Russian three-ruble silver coin. In addition to the old Petersburg building of the academy, three key figures from its founding - Peter I , Lomonossow and Euler - as well as the wisdom goddess Minerva are depicted on it.

See also


  • More than 240 publications are recorded in the RussGUS database (there search - form search - subject notation: 6.2 *)
  • Jack L. Cross: A Guide to the Russian Academy of Sciences . 2nd edition, Cross Associates, Austin TX 1997 ( digitized version and supplements )
  • Academy of Sciences of Russia - Society for Cultural Studies: ERNSTFALL also in RUSSIA ; 1997, ISBN 3-930218-33-X

Web links

Commons : Russian Academy of Sciences  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 55 ° 42 ′ 38.9 ″  N , 37 ° 34 ′ 40.1 ″  E

Individual evidence

  1. Выборы в Российскую академию наук - 2019 [The election of RAN members - 2019 ] ( ru ) RAN website. November 15, 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  2. Current lists of full members , corresponding members and foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (in Russian)
  3. Meeting with newly elected President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev ( en ) . 27th September 2017.
  4. J. Hans: Rebellious physicist . Süddeutsche Zeitung . September 28, 2017. Accessed October 1, 2017: "Alexander Sergejew is the new President of the Russian Academy of Sciences"
  5., March 27, 2007
  6. Подборка статей «Российской газеты» о реформе РАН (All publications of the newspaper Rossijskaja gaseta on the reform of the RAN, in Russian)
  7. Подборка статей газеты «Поиск» о реформе РАН (All publications of the scientific newspaper “Poisk” on the reform of the RAN, in Russian)
  8. ^ Clara Weiss: "Kremlin Smashes Russian Academy of Sciences" , World Socialist Web Site of October 26, 2013, viewed on April 5, 2018
  9. Kerstin Horn: "Russia's Academy of Sciences - Putin's death sentence" , FAZ from November 4, 2013, viewed on April 5, 2018
  10. Putin splits Russia's Education Ministry and renames the Communications Ministry ( en ) Meduza . May 15, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  11. Science Institute in Moscow: Large fire destroys historical collection. n-tv .de, February 1, 2015, accessed on February 2, 2015 .
  12. Moscow: Major fire damages historical library of the Academy of Sciences. dailymotion , accessed February 2, 2015 .
  13. Ekaterina Vardanyan: A devastating fire in the library for social and human sciences in Moscow . Information practice from February 2, 2015. Accessed February 2, 2015.
  14. Michael Thumann: “Kremlin Critics in Court” Die Zeit from May 8, 2015, viewed on May 8, 2015
  15. List of Presidents on the official website of the Russian Academy of Sciences