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After his tour of the Nuclotron Ion-based Collider Facility (NICA) on June 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin conducted a major back-and-forth with the Council for Science and Education. The Council consists of the major figures in the field of Russian science. Putin stressed the importance of an effective and coordinated scientific thrust as the basis for the fight for technological sovereignty. He had previously talked with the team from Dubna about the possibilities surrounding the new center. The subject of discussion with the Council was primarily focused around the updated Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development that had been released earlier by the government. “Now it is necessary to ensure effective management of the scientific blocks of the national projects of technological sovereignty,” Putin said. “They should be closely coordinated with each other, which requires clear interaction between departments, research institutes, universities, enterprises and high-tech companies. All of our scientific, technological, educational and production potential—in the full sense of the word—must be gathered into a single fist. Dispersion of forces and funds is inadmissible here.” [DeepL translation]

He underlined the importance of the planning and management of scientific and technological development. He referred to some of the measures used during the Soviet time. He explained that sometimes, then, when several centers worked on the same topic, there was often competition, which served a useful purpose, and produced some interesting results [one might think of the various construction bureaus in the space area, where competition was sometimes VERY intense—WCJ], but he warned that one can’t spread oneself thin, and must find a “golden mean.”

He honed in a lot on the issue of scientific education, particularly in the small towns and at the elementary levels. In the discussion, the issue often came up that the most popular occupation for young people today was to become a blogger, and that it really had to be changed. There was also general agreement that one had to start at the elementary level with science and mathematics, in order to get young people to use their minds at an early stage in working out problems.

The most striking back-and-forth transpired with Aleksey Likhachev, the director of Rosatom, who remarked that there was much discussion about energy, but that there was too little mention in the strategy of the word “nuclear.” At one point, Putin seemed to chastise him, because he was the one in charge of nuclear energy as head of Rosatom, and therefore, wanted more said about it.

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