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Efforts to Aid Russia's Scholars Are More Than a Humanitarian Gesture

that the former Soviet Academy of Sciences, which recently trans­ferred its assets to the newly formed Russian Academy of Sci­ences. supported many institutes that did first-rate work. But he adds, "some institutes were sup­ported by the academy structure simply because they were political­ly correct. They were of no value scientifically."

"Divining which is which is go­ing to be difficult" for foundations and societies looking to funnel re­sources to specific institutions, Mr. Lerch says. "The former Sovi­et Union as a whole is a sinkhole."

Mr. Stone says his plan to pro­vide modest subcontracts to Rus­sian research institutes could avoid that problem, since institutes that do not return work of the highest quality would not be given addi­tional support.

'Someone Specific'

“Let's put this on a capitalist ba­sis," he says. "Let the American scientists figure out who's who."

Joseph McGhee, director of ex­changes at the U.S. State Depart­ment's Office of Independent States and Commonwealth Af­fairs—until recently called the Of­fice of Soviet Union Affairs—says that because funds can .be easily entangled or lost within the Rus­sian bureaucracy, groups sending money to help scholars there should "have someone specific in mind."

Donations of equipment, he adds. can run into additional prob­lems with customs regulations in Russia, U.S. export-control regu­lations. and other legal impedi­ments.

"Unless there's a competent consignee on the other end. God knows where it's going to end up," he says.

Loren R. Graham, a professor of the history of science at the Massa­chusetts Institute of Technology. says that because the "organiza­tion of Russian science and culture is presently in turmoil, direct assis­tance to major institutions should probably be avoided."

"We easily could support the wrong organizations in the power struggles going on." he adds.

Mr. Graham and others are also concerned that a Russian tax of as much as 60 per cent on foreign do­nations of funds and equipment and an official exchange rate that can significantly reduce the value of financial contributions could in­hibit support from U.S. founda­tions and other non-profit organizations.

Favorable Exchange Rate

Eugene B. Skolnikoff. a politi­cal-science professor at mit. says foundations that intend to send money should demand that their currency be exchanged at the more favorable tourist rate of 100 rubles to the dollar, rather than the official rate of 1.5 rubles to the dollar.

He and Mr. Graham emphasize that American groups should also try to negotiate an end to the Rus­sian tax on foreign contributions. Mr. Graham says that when he and Mr. Skolnikoff visited Russia last month, many scientists they spoke to expressed the fear that the tax would be an obstacle to foreign contributions. "Very often, they mentioned that tax." says Mr. Gra­ham.

In a letter that the two mit professors have been distributing to foundations around the country. two officials of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Victor M. Sergeev and Artyom Mnatsakanyan. urge Western groups considering ways of helping Russian science to meet with Russian officials to negotiate an end to the tax and to institute procedures through which funds can easily be sent to specific Russian scientists and institutions.

Mr. Rabinowitch of the MacArthur Foundation agrees with the recommendations of the Russian scientists, noting that foundations and other non-profit institutions

cannot agree to pay such taxes un­der U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations.

"These taxes have got to be a matter for negotiation, as do the exchange rates," he says.

Mr. Skolnikoff of mit says that because they can respond quickly and provide financial assistance with less red tape and political con­troversy than the U.S. govern­ment. foundations and other non-profit institutions offer the best nope to Russian scholars, at least for the near future.

"Whatever can be done should be done quickly," he says. "And the largest hope of moving fast is with the foundations."

Other, more pressing prob­lems—such as starvation, bolster­ing the Russian economy, and keeping Russian nuclear scientists from selling information about nu­clear-weapons technology to other countries—are likely to get the most attention and help from the U.S. government. Mr. Skolnikoff and Mr. Graham say. Thus. they add, it would he appropriate for foundations to focus on such areas as preserving the best aspects of Russian fundamental science.

"It's not at the top of everyone's agenda in terms of relief." says Mr. Skolnikoff. "But it’s one of those areas where a little money can go a long way."

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