Thus, continued “internal migration” in the FSU of noncritical personnel from the science sector to other newly emerging sectors is not only to be expected but should be welcomed by institute directors, many of whom, for various reasons, have not been able to downsize their staffs. In part, this relates to the traditional responsibility of an institute director for the welfare of his employees. Similarly, the Russian Government has been unable, or unwilling, to reduce institute staffs to a level that could be reasonably supported.

While continued downsizing is in the interest of the Russian science sector, the reductions that have occurred have not necessarily preserved the most competent people. Aggregate data on internal migration and downsizing do not reveal the scientific status of those leaving; in other words, are the best scientists and engineers leaving? Are the younger scientists and engineers leaving? Or has the downsizing been random?

A report from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) suggests that “the first to leave are leading researchers, experienced, well-educated specialists.”7 The committee's discussions at the Institute of Applied Microbiology support that view. Similarly, a researcher at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute commented that the older researchers, who also hold positions at learning institutes, have tended to stay, while the younger and the very competent middle-aged researchers were leaving.

The aggregate data also fail to show the extent to which scientists have actually left the country, as opposed to leaving science for other careers. Official statistics regarding the number of scientists who have emigrated to other countries “are very limited at present, ” according to Russia's Centre for Science Research and Statistics. Data indicating sensationally large numbers of emigrating scientists appear in various publications, but “the origin of these data is a mystery.”8 Moreover, many scientists have gone abroad under temporary arrangements that enable them to stay at the forefront of research. Of the 1,200 scientists employed at the Ioffe Institute, for example, approximately 100 are working abroad at any given moment. How many will return is uncertain.

The committee heard from several directors and researchers that a significant number of their best people had left for nontechnical commercial jobs in Russia. This internal migration, which has involved disproportionate numbers of younger scientists, who are more mobile than older scientists and who may have more opportunities in nonscientific careers, has been more deleterious to the Russian science community than emigration abroad. As a result, the institute's staffs are aging. Several institute directors commented that the average age of their scientific staffs is now over 50.

Thus, available data and the committee's many discussions confirm that significant downsizing—both internal migration and emigration—is and has been occurring in the FSU. But what of the scientists and engineers who are or have been conducting research in weapons of mass destruction? Nuclear weapons scientists, once the elite of Soviet science, have not been spared from the financial crisis. Budgets for the once all-powerful nuclear weapons laboratories, such as Arzamas-16 and the Kurchatov Institute, have been dramatically reduced. However, the downsizing at Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Atomic Energy institutes has not been as severe as at other institutes (e.g., at institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences), but the level of frustration, and even desperation, among staff members is increasing and should remain a cause for international concern.

In May 1996 the Russian press reported that a Russian scientist was arrested on charges of producing and smuggling abroad radioactive materials that could be used for nuclear weapons production9 The suspect, who had worked at Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, produced 1 kilogram of a radioactive substance in his laboratory and shipped it abroad. This case, and several others in which people have been arrested, are stark reminders of the ongoing threat of proliferation.

Estimates vary on the number of Soviet scientists, engineers, and technicians who were involved in research on weapons of mass destruction. In Russia alone, 10,000 to 20,000 scientists, engineers, and technicians formed the core of research on chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Beyond that, 40,000 to 50,000 individuals have knowledge and experience that could be of interest to rogue states10

These professionals are the target of the ISTC's activities. In all of their visits and discussions, committee members sought to gain a clearer understanding of whether the ISTC has been able to reach the relevant scientists and engineers and what impact the center's efforts are having.

Subsequent chapters present the committee's findings and conclusions.

7  

IIASA, Military R&D Institutes in the Context of Demilitarization in Russia, WP-94-002, IIASA, Laxenburg, 1996, p. 9.

8  

Centre for Science Research and Statistics, Emigration of Scientists: Problems, Real Estimations, Moscow, 1994, p. 29.

9  

The Boston Globe, May 8, 1996, p.10 (as reported by ITAR TASS, May 7).

10  

Estirnates used by the ISTC, according to Glenn Schweitzer, then executive director.



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