So what are politicians statements about cancelling privileges worth?
A group of scientists who belong to the All-Ukrainian Association “For European Values in Science” have addressed an appeal to the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. They are asking that the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution 17 October 2007 be revoked. The said Resolution unwarrantedly increases the lifelong payment for “the title” of current member or correspondent member of State academies.
The authors are convinced that besides the latest unwarranted increased in lifelong salaries as an unjustified privilege to a category of citizens close to those in power, the Resolution constitutes an unlawful 4.5 percent “feeding” by the State of members of academies which costs the State Budget in their estimation 100 million UAH per annum.
This came about as a result of Presidential Decrees on two previous increases in payment issued by President Kuchma with the authority of the Cabinet of Ministers being clearly exceeded. Over the two years that President Yushchenko has been in power, he has failed to revoke these decrees in spite of a direct appeal by scientists
Despite calls issued by the Prime Minister for members of the public to take an active part in reforming all spheres of life, it took more than an hour and an experienced lawyer on 25 December, although there was no queue, to overcome the opposition from an employee of the Cabinet of Ministers reception centre. The latter did not wish to accept the Appeal together with the 12 documents cited in it, or to register it. The Appeal was finally registered as 046254/26 only with the assistance of a Cabinet of Ministers official, Mr Homolsky (with his personal signature confirming registration).
The authors are inviting scientists and other Ukrainian citizens to add their signatures to the appeal.
The key arguments presented in the Appeal
The authors stress that the serious problems confronting Ukrainian science are not only connected with inadequate funding. They cite a legal analysis carried out by the Association which concluded that the main reason for the clear failure of Ukraines official academic science to meet the demands of the time is its pro-communist organization introduced in 1991 through the law “On scientific and scientific-technical work”. The provisions of this law have never been checked for their compliance with the Constitution.
Science in Ukraine is based around State academies totally supported by the State with no competition to justify this allocation of public funds.
They are formed with flagrant infringements of the principles of democracy, with new members of this elite being chosen by those already occupying such positions.
The members of these academies effectively have power in the field of science yet bear no responsibility for the results of their activities before the State. Their lifelong salary and benefits are calculated with no regard for their scientific input.
The Association believes that the very institution of academicians is a major factor in the low level of science in the country.