On April 21, 2017, the Presidium of the Higher Attestation Commission recommended transferring the discussion of the doctorate dissertation by Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s Minister of Culture, to the Dissertational Council of the Belgorod State National Research University. Previously, Medinsky’s seriously criticized doctoral thesis “Problems of Objectivity in Descriptions of Russian History of the Second Part of the 15th-17th Centuries” was sent to the Ural Federal University in the city of Yekaterinburg and to Moscow State University. Medinsky could not come to the Yakaterinburg meeting supposedly because of his busy ministerial schedule. On February 7, 2017, the Moscow State University Council did not consider Medinsky’s dissertation since the dean of the historical faculty Ivan Tuchkov defended Medinsky by saying, contrary to other experts, that there was no plagiarism in the dissertation. Just after this meeting, one of the Council’s members, who voted against Tuchkov’s decision, 77-year-old Professor Nikolai Yerofeev, died, and the Council was soon disbanded.
Later Russian bureaucrats, apparently, found a way how to escape any situation similar to that of Medinsky’s dissertation. On April 26, 2017, the expert council, formed under the Russian Duma’s (Parliament’s) Committee for Education and Science, discussed in a closed session a draft of the new law “On Scientific, Technical and Innovative Activities in the Russian Federation.” The Director of the Department of Science and Technologies of the Ministry of Education and Science, Sergey Matveev, later explained that the draft presupposes the possibility of awarding a scientific degree on the basis of a summation of published papers in the main professional journals or patents, without defending a thesis. If adopted, this law will allow scientific degrees to be given to poor researchers who have published only a few papers.