Associations cancel meetings in Russia as scientists urge boycott

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The Neva. Annunciation Bridge. Petersburg. 123RF The Neva. Annunciation Bridge. Petersburg. 123RF

Ukrainian scientists have called for an international boycott of scientific conferences inside Russia and called on Russian institutes and scientific leaders to condemn the invasion of their country.

At the same time international associations and other academic bodies are scrambling to cancel conferences in Russia and find alternative venues or shift their meetings to virtual.

In a series of open letters, Ukraine’s scientific community has demanded that Russia be frozen out of research programmes, international collaborations, and the scientific exchange scheme.

One letter asks fellow scientists to boycott attempts to hold scientific events within the Russian Federation ‘including scientific conferences, symposiums, etc’ and for the ‘prohibition of citizens of the Russian Federation’ from being ‘editors, co-editors, reviewers of international publications’.

The letter reads: “The armed forces and citizens defend Ukraine to the end! The whole world gives a worthy rebuff to the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions. At the same time, we believe that in this situation the progressive world scientific community should have its say.

“That is why we need your support right now. In our opinion, in the 21st century and 2022, perhaps the best answer to tanks, multiple rocket launchers, and rockets is closed access to high technologies, innovations, scientific research, and information support.”

Another letter is targeted more specifically at the EU and its member states, asking for Russia's removal from collaborative projects, such as CERN, and the Erasmus+e exchange scheme, on the basis that: "Russian universities are not and have never been independent from the Russian government. They have always followed state Russian propaganda, and there is no place for freedom of science, freedom of speech, freedom of learning and teaching".

More than 600 Russian scientists have also condemned the invasion of Ukraine in an open letter to Vladimir Putin. The letter describes the war as 'unfair and senseless' and a 'step to nowhere'. Those signing the letter who are based in their home country did so risking fines and possible imprisonment,

The pleas comes shortly after the prestigious four-yearly conference of the International Mathematical Union, which was scheduled to be held in St Petersburg in July, was cancelled.

Following growing pressure from its national member societies and more than 100 of its speakers, the union said the event would now be held online, as a result of the conflict.

Elsewhere the annual congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), due to be held in St Petersburg in May, has been cancelled.

The International Society of Toxinology World Congress, due to be held in St Petersburg in June, has also been cancelled and organisers as ‘urgently seeking alternative dates, venues and methods.’

Words: James Lancaster

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

A journalist for more than 22 years, AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Page proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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