Academics` BEST FRIEND

Industrial espionage, purchase of scientific inventions developed by the West and pulling out production secrets have always been among primary aims of the KGB and GRU agents in their respective European countries. There was a direct link between agents who extracted secret information from the West and development of the Military-Industrial Commission of the USSR. Military strength of the USSR was heavily dependent on constant development of new technologies and their application. At that time Soviet propaganda and political-military influence took the second and respectively third position in the «TO DO» lists of intelligence officers. Recruitment of Western academics was an integral part of the Soviet innovations strategy and obviously borne fruits. One of the most famous operations was connected with capturing of the US atomic secrets in the 1940s.

The fall of the Iron Curtain after the USSR had dissolved in 1991 is recognized as one of the most Life-changing events in the History. However, nothing changed the methods applied by intelligence, the mentioned events made even easier for them to collect data now. One of the most effective ways to recruit Soviet emigrants is to establish quasi-academic organization focused at particular groups of people, or rather targets of influence. That`s how Russia managed to get such plum scientists working for the Government.

Over the past quarter century, a vast community of expats has grown overseas, including scholars who have made a career in the West. Accordingly, the opportunities to join the Western scientific society have grown to a very large extent. The most lucrative seems to be cooperation in the field of high technology.

In October 2017, a grand ceremony marking the opening of the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students took place in Sochi. The event was pure, direct, unhidden propaganda event. When addressing the public at the opening of the festival, V. Putin expressed his intention to attract emigrant scientists to come back and work in Russia. The only criteria is to achieve professional success, he claimed «We are thinking about it, there are certain ideas», «It may sound weird, but nonetheless Russia is interested in the return of those who really stroke oil and can effectively cooperate here.» And he added that «the program of mega-grants will be extended in the country». Who better than Putin knows that scientists working both in the West and in Russia are ideal sources of information? During the Soviet times it was impossible to even dream of such a things, now they are declared from the stage and well-funded what makes them successful. 

The program to attract migrant scientists to Russia with the help of large grants has indeed been on the agenda for several years and it`s directly linked to one extremely ambiguous expatriate organization.

This organization is called the Russian-speaking Academic Science Association (RASA). It was founded at the First International Seminar of Former Soviet Scientists in France in 2008. «The Association brings together scientists from the former Soviet Union who are now working outside the Russian Federation. The Association also includes engineers and entrepreneurs working in the field of high technologies, as well as students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows studying outside of the Russian Federation.»

Officially, the RASA is «a non-profit non-governmental organization aimed at development of collaboration of Russian-speaking scientists abroad». In fact, the creation of the RASA was initiated by the Russian government, which, bears the obligation to fund all its projects.

One of such projects was started 2008 by the Russian Ministry of Science and Education, it`s more known as «Event 1.5». The purpose was «to reach out to Russian scientists working abroad on a permanent and temporary basis and to consolidate them around Russian educational institutions, further apply their experience, skills and knowledge to develop the national know-how».

The very first intentions were to invite foreign scientists of Russian (Soviet) origin to work in Russia and consequently manage scientific projects on lucrative basis, the Governments declared, «The expert commission will select one hundred best projects, each of which will receive funding of up to two million rubles a year. At least one young candidate of sciences, one graduate student and two students will work in the team of the leader. The manager will be required to spend a total of two months per year in Russia; his salary will be no more than half of the total payroll fund for the project. All projects are designed for two-year state funding period

The Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated July 28, 2008 approved the federal program  «Scientific and educational staff of innovative Russia for 2009-2013», which included the «Event 1.5», which had a role to conduct researches by teams led by invited scholars». Three months later, the «International Association of Russian-speaking scientists»  (RASA) was unveiled in Paris.

The association consists of three sections: American, European and Asian (which arose only in 2015). Its activities are organized by the International Coordinating Council, which includes representatives of all sections and the president of RASA. «In different years RASA was under the Presidency of international professors: Vyacheslav Safarov (France, 2008-2010), Boris Chichkov (Germany, 2011-2013), Vladimir Shiltsev (USA, 2014-2016) and Igor Efimov (USA, since 2016).

In the West, RASA holds conferences, educational fora and promotes the achievements of Russian science.

In Russia, the RASA is a subsidiary to governmental and state organizations. To be precise, it carries out expert assessment of projects of the Ministry of Education and Science, directly participates in the «Staff 1.5» project, etc. Since 2014, RASA local centers have been established at the universities of St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and Kazan.

But what`s striking is that the International Association of Russian-speaking scientists consists almost exclusively of representatives of the natural sciences — chemists, physicists, biologists, etc. There are absolutely no experts in human sciences who fall under the program of the Ministry of Education and Science «1.5». Coincidence, isn’t` it?

If for a while we put aside all credibility failures of the RASA and consider the RASA as a public organization composed of volunteers, then the main oddity is the emergence of such an association itself. Officially its employees are volunteers, but in fact well-drilled experts sit there. People who are professional in various fields of science are not eager to share the fame with others by uniting in ethnic societies on ethnic grounds. Just due to the lack of common interests this is nonsense.

Russian cultural societies exist in many cities, but they function in completely different ways. Maybe the only common criteria is that they are set up with purely cultural purposes. International scientific societies also exist in many legal forms, but they are not ethnic by their nature. Their members are united by purely scientific interests. There are no shared scientific interests here, to keep it real, the formal principle of unification is the native Russian language and Soviet (Russian) education.

Rome was not built in a day, likewise such a strange association could hardly arise without efforts or the Government. What`s more, it cannot arrange annual conferences in different countries of the world by itself, it has to ask for the permission. It is clear that the RASA serves as an association operating in the interests of the Russian government. Surely, membership in such an organization is associated with certain bonuses. For example, bonus are obtained in the form of Russian grants and direct financing of conferences.

One who has the Internet access may easily track down the RASA links with Russian governmental organizations and intelligence agencies.

The «First International Seminar of Former Soviet Scientists» in 2008 was organized by Vyacheslav Safarov, the Chairman of the International Council of RASA, honorary professor of Aiх-Marseille University in Paris. The event took place on the island of Porkerol in the Mediterranean Sea. The seminar was attended by the Russian Minister of Education, later Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, Andrei Fursenko. Mr. Safarov as it`s reported accidentally met Fursenko at the Munich airport and invited a former colleague in the physics and technology department to the seminar. At this meeting, RASA was created in the form of two branches — European and American.

In 2009, the RASA conference with 42 speakers was held in Corsica, surprisingly the place of gathering was o territory where the French Armed Forces deployed their base.

Dozens of high-ranking Russian officials attended the luxury village for academic opportunities. Among all participant it`s worth to highlight Sergey Kalyuzhny, member of the RUSNANO board; Leonid Gozman, Director of the Humanitarian Programs of RUSNANO; Sergey Ivanets, Director of the Department of Strategy and Projects in Education and Science of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation; Igor Morozov, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo).

The last two — Igor Morozov and Sergey Ivanets, are high-ranking special services officers who are responsible for scientific and technical espionage.

In 2011, the RASA conference was held in Kazan with the participation of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RUSNANO, Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russkiy Mir Foundation and other Russian organizations. Minister Andrei Fursenko sent a message about a contest of mega grants in the amount of 150 million rubles, designed «to invite leading scientists to Russian universities

In June 2014, one of the organizers of the RASA — professor from Germany Boris Chichkov recalling the invitation came to Moscow to negotiate the details of cooperation with Rossotrudnichestvo and personaly Konstantin Kosachev, who stated that his department was interested in developing relations with the RASA.

In November 2014, the RASA Conference, which gathered about a hundred participants, was held in Boston, USA. It was opened by solemn speech of the former Ambassador of Russia to the United States Sergey Kislyak. Various Russian organizations took part in the organization, including the Coordinating Council of Organizations of Russian Russian Compatriots in the USA.

In 2015, Dmitry Livanov, the new Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, met with representatives of RASA in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the RASA forum was organized in Berlin by the Russian House of Science and Culture in Berlin with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. It was attended by the consulate officer in the educational issues of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, as well as representatives of various German organizations and departments. The most known organizations that disclosed their position towards cooperation with Russia by attending the event were the German Center for Aviation and Cosmonautics (DLR), the German Scientific Society (DFG), the German Institute of Materials (BAM), as well as representatives of the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the Federal State of Brandenburg.

In 2015, the RASA conference in Washington was organized by common efforts of the Russian Embassy, Rossotrudnichestvo and the Ministry of Education and Science.

In July 2015 for the first time the RASA groups deployed in Singapore. Due to the support of Gazprom the idea to create as many subsidiaries as possible was gradually realizing. As the protocol suggests, the opening address was made by the Russian ambassador after which the majority of present and voting formed the RASA Asia Pacific Branch. The former RASA President Boris Chichkov (Germany) also spoke on the conference and reassured the audience in long-lasting projects.

After warm Singapore, the next conference was held in cool St. Petersburg. This meeting was opened by another former president of the RASA, Vyacheslav Safarov (France).

The conference of the RASA American branch in Los Angeles in November 2016 attracted not only the Consul-General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco, but also the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the USA, the Minister of Education and Science, representatives of SKOLKOVO, ROSCOSMOS and undeniably Rossotrudnichestvo.

In February 2016, a meeting of the RASA Council was held in Berlin at the Russian House of Science and Technology. An honor to address the public was given to some representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo, temporary trade mission of the Russian Federation to Germany and the Adviser on science and technology of the Russian Embassy .

Deriving from the chronology of the activities of the RASA, one can see how rapidly it develops, notwithstanding the fact Russia is in the international isolation after the annexation of  the Crimea.

The bottom line is that representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russkiy Mir, international departments of secret military concerns, such as ROSATOM and ROSKOSMOS, the Coordination Council of Russian compatriots, consular and embassy officials of the Russian Federation working with emigrants are all representatives of various state security agencies performing specific state tasks.

It can be assumed that the members of the RASA from the very beginning were recruited by intelligence and work in the best interests of the Russian government.