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Posted: July 5, 2007

Russian Nano Corporation: investments in future or money laundering?

(Nanowerk News) Here is a critical commentary on the newly approved Russian state nanotechnology corporation:
Nanotechnologies are knocking on our door; they are coming with new medical equipment, engineering systems and precision instruments. No wonder that the Russian authorities are looking forward to a new nano-project to be established. Many foreign developed countries proclaimed their policy concerning nano-technologies, they invest billions dollars in this field, since who holds information and innovations – controls the future.
Nano-technologies are among the most popular topics discussed today in Russia – they are advertised, observed and supported by many TV channels and newspapers. The project is compared to the Soviet space program and work on H-bomb, what’s more, the way of implementing the program reminds of an old Soviet system to form giant state-controlled corporations responsible for everything and nothing at the same moment.
Yesterday the State Duma passed the law to establish a new Russian corporation of nanotechnologies (Rosnanotech). According to the document, the corporation is created a very powerful organization aimed at cooperation with politicians in the nanotechnological sphere, able to have bank accounts abroad as well as in the Central Bank of Russia.
The corporation can’t go bankrupt, as the Bankruptcy Act doesn’t apply to it. Besides, it will never be liable for debts of the country and Russia won’t pay off the corporation’s debts. No federal, regional or local institutions have a right to control the business of the corporation, the head of which is appointed by president. The supreme authority of Rosnanotech will consist of 8 members and a director general with all the members appointed by the State Duma, the Federal Council, the government or president.
However, there is an opinion that the corporation will also serve as a money laundering machine due to its size and undefined tasks. It is to control all nanotech projects implemented in Russia and set out priorities. It is expected that the government will allot about 200 billion rubles (approximately US$7.75 billion) for a three-year period to finance the corporation activities, which is incredibly much for unsettled tasks. For this reason many are afraid that this money can be used improperly or simply stolen.
There is a problem that worries even scientists – the corporation is to form a monopoly in the nanotech field, which respectively limits opportunities of the free market to select the most competitive ideas. Today the Russian research centres work mostly on nano-materials, while such prospective and promising spheres as nano-biotechnologies and new nano-projects in the energy-producing industry are undersold.
To develop new spheres the corporation needs lots of men of science, though Russian universities and scientific-research institutes are not able to provide Rosnanotech with so many efficient specialists at the moment. Therefore, the Russian system of higher education must be altered to meet the requirements of the corporation.
The project itself is very ambitious and it can lead the Russian technologies and industry to economic prosperity. Hopefully, the people responsible for its implementation are fair, incorruptible and smart.
Source: Russia IC (Olga Pletneva)
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