Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that a scientific breakthrough was a key priority for Russia as the country struggles with increasing international isolation and a brain drain.
“We have placed the scientific technological breakthrough among our key national goals and priorities,” Putin said at a tech forum in Siberia’s main city Novosibirsk.
“I am convinced that we are able to accomplish this by uniting the efforts of the state, businesses and the scientific educational community while expanding the freedom for initiative and creativity of our people,” Putin said in comments released by the Kremlin.
He called on the authorities to do everything for talented youth to “feel like they are in demand” and to lure “scientists from all over the world to Russia”.
Putin said Russia’s financing for science has drastically increased in the last 17 years and called for the state to “create conditions to attract talented youth to science”.
But critics say the government has done little to improve the investment climate and opportunities for businesses and scientists in Russia.
The authorities have also failed to stem the brain drain from the country’s middle class.
According to a survey by a state-controlled pollster released last month, nearly one in three Russians aged 18 to 24 wants to leave and live abroad.
In addition, a crackdown on internet freedom by security services has intensified in the country over the past few months.
An increasing number of Russians, including teenagers, are being prosecuted because of posts on social media — in some cases even “likes” or reposts — branded extremist by the authorities.
Putin, re-elected for a fourth term in March, has ruled Russia since 2000.
Quality of life in Russia declined over his previous Kremlin term and the country has become increasingly isolated on the global stage in recent years.
The economy has been hit by Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and the war in the east of the former Soviet state.