Academic Rights and Freedom in Russia: Researchers' Views Introduction to the Special Issue
No one today argues that "Academic freedom is […] the price the public must pay in return for the social good of advancing knowledge."1 Experts seem to agree that knowledge is a value; the development and gain of knowledge through science and education is the goal to which people from all over the world aspire, no matter the political regime, culture, or religion to which they belong. However, a number of questions remain open:
• Is academic freedom understood similarly by the elite and by ordinary members of the academic profession?
• Does national political rhetoric influence academics' understanding of the basic principles of academic freedom and how these principles can be used in practice?
• What are the boundaries of academic freedom?
• Are academic freedom and free speech rights coextensive or not? These questions are discussed in this special issue, which is dedicated to academic rights and freedom in Russian academia.
A discussion of academic freedom in Russia is long overdue, as one of the authors of this issue noted with sadness. Very little research has been conducted in this field over the past quarter-century2 and the topic has been developing very slowly. Meanwhile, the V-Dem project has found that academic freedom in Russia has been declining steadily since 2007.
This special issue is the first collection to assess the status of academic rights and freedoms in Russia today and to discuss the potential risks thereof. The scholars explore how academic freedom is being understood and implemented in the specific context of the ongoing authoritarian modernization of Russian academia, which has seen an increase in managerialism in parallel with the "conservative turn" of Russia's foreign and domestic policy.