…are more and more like war communiques. The ‘repair’ is going on; the colleagues who are in the building say they have called the police. The workers are meanwhile tearing out the parquet in the conference hall where our tomorrow staff meeting is to take place and are taking the chairs out. The company that is managing the building is acting like bandits.
The message that our academic secretary sent to the internal mailing list on Saturday evening is worth to be quoted word for word:
For those who was not [in our building] in Krzhizhanovskogo Street, I can report that they are setting us at naught meanly. It is not a matter of harmless rhythmic knocking that is bringing headache. The workers are tearing off the parquet in respirators. The air is full of dust. And our employees have no respirators.
Some part of the first floor is covered with sand now. The same thing will soon happen with fourth and fifth floors as well.
The administration of the Institute asks everyone who will physically be able to come to the staff meeting on Tuesday at twelve not to fail to come.
When this ‘repair’ was just beginning on Thursday, we thought it was an attempt to put a scare into us. But probably things are much more serious, and they are trying to produce unbearable conditions for us in order to paralyze our work and thus to force us physically out of the building. I wonder what will happen next week…
I wanted to write finally something positive about my Institute, but the only really positive news is still that we still continue working, despite all the difficulties, and our work is surprisingly successful. However, even this is in question since yesterday.
First, when we came to work in the morning, we saw strange workers in our building ‘repairing’ the floor. The results of their work look like this:
This was only the beginning. At about one o’clock, our acting director Ilia Zaitsev received an official paper with a claim that we are to ‘vacate’ the building in seven business days. No other housing was proposed instead. This requires some additional explanation.
Our main building in Nakhimovskii Prospect was destroyed by a heavy fire in January 2015. The construction of a new building is only to begin next year. Several weeks after the fire, we were given four floors in another building in Krzhizhanovskogo Street as a temporary housing and were proposed we would be given the other two floors as well later. Formally, our Institute is a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, but during its infamous ‘reform’ in 2013, all its institutes were subordinated to the newly established Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations (FANO). The building in Krzhizhanovskogo Street belongs to the Academy of Sciences, but is managed by a state enterprise that is also subordinated to the FANO. D’you think it is to provide us the best working conditions?—Not at all. Its director Aleksei Pavlov has tried to force us out of the building since the very first month after we settled in here, and the FANO has been pretending not to be able to do anything with it all this time. By the moment, he only managed to force us off the ground floor that is now rented to a dental clinic, a shop of paints and lacquers, and a hookah lounge. It’s by him that the yesterday’s paper is sighed.
He argues the building is in a critical condition. But as far as we know, none of the commercial organizations on the ground floor is required to move away, in spite of that ‘critical condition’ of the building. Moreover, Pavlov signed an agreement with our Institute only a short time ago that allows us to use the building at least until 31 December. He didn’t probably know anything about the ‘critical condition’ of the building while signing that agreement. And three days ago, the acting President of the Academy of Sciences Valerii Kozlov proposed to unite our Institute with the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI). It’s an old idea, first proposed a year ago. And it’s completely unacceptable for us because our Institute and the VINITI do quite a different work, and an attempt to make our Institute a part of the VINITI will most probably mean the liquidation of our Institute. So it seems that the yesterday’s events were not an initiative of Pavlov, but something much more serious.
Our nearest plan is to organize a staff meeting on Tuesday. We also hope to receive an official explanations from the FANO by that time. They were pretending not to know anything almost all the day yesterday, but in the evening they had to give some comments to the journalists after we published the news about our expulsion in mass media. Now they are lying through the teeth that they have brought to our notice that this building is only a temporary housing and that they have already proposed us several variants of new housing. Our own administration doesn’t know anything about those ‘proposals’. I’ll write more as soon as I get any more information.
Finally finished my short HOWTO on searching academic literature in the Internet. The text is based mostly on my own experience: my main work at the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences is to analyse the new publications on Soviet history, including foreign ones, and it would be really difficult to do this work without Internet as only a small part of Western research papers and monographs is available at Russian libraries.
Download the full text (PDF, 9.5 Mb, in Russian).