Mathematicians protest against holding a major conference in Russia


How Ukrainian researchers fear for their lives and careers after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mathematicians are puzzled over what to do with the famous mathematical conference, which was to take place in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July.

The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) is “the largest and most important conference on pure and applied mathematics, as well as one of the oldest scientific congresses in the world,” according to Website 2022 Conference. The meeting, held by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), based in Germany, is held only once every four years. If nine days 2018 ICM held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, gathered 10,506 participants.

Saturday conference announced the organizers This year the event will be completely virtual and held outside of Russia. The executive committee of the meeting issued a statement saying: “We strongly condemn Russia’s actions. Our deepest condolences to our Ukrainian colleagues and the Ukrainian people. Given this situation, the IMU cannot accept ICM and GA [general assembly] as traditional personal events in Russia ”.

The Fields Medal is one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics – traditionally awarded at the event. According to a recent decision, this year’s award ceremony and general meeting will be held in person, but in an uncertain place outside Russia.

Long-standing worries

Soon after that it was announced in 2018, that a meeting in 2022 will be held in Russia, mathematicians have begun to express their concerns. An open letter signed by more than 380 people called for a boycott. It cites human rights abuses and “Russia’s aggression against other countries,” including Russia’s military invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The letter also noted that the Russian government co-organized and funded this year’s ICM.

Also in 2018, Ami Radunskaya, then president of the Association of Women in Mathematics, wrote letter the ICM organizing committee, expressing “deep concern and dissatisfaction with the choice of St. Petersburg” – especially in relation to “Russia’s openly aggressive laws against the LGBTQ community.” The letter suggested that the committee consider relocating or “publish information that specifically addresses the specific dangers faced by LGBTQ mathematicians wishing to attend the meeting.”

У Letter to the editors of 2021 published in Art Messages of the American Mathematical Society, mathematician Ilya Kapovich of Hunter College in New York City wrote about “the need to guard against the possibility that the Russian government intends to use ICM as the main means of propaganda.” Kapovich also noted that “the level of participation of prominent statesmen in the ICM is unprecedented in the history of the ICM.”

Recent answers

Group Boycott ICM 2022 in Russia reported that several mathematical societies, including in Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Norway and Finland – spoke out against holding a congress in Russia. The ICM 2022 boycott in Russia has also been collected signatures of the 122 invited speakers who expressed their concern about the venue.

February 22 President of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Ruth Cherney stated that she “has no plans to send representatives to the meeting in St. Petersburg. We urge the International Mathematical Union not to hold the ICM in Russia in July 2022. ” AMS has suspended its travel grants program to help researchers attend the meeting.

The London Mathematical Society, Canadian Mathematical Society, Italian Mathematical Union, Australian Mathematical Society, European Mathematical Society and Mathematical Institute of the French National Center for Scientific Research issued similar statements.

Many mathematicians welcomed the IMU’s decision not to hold the ICM in Russia, although some doubted why the course had changed so long. У online application, a group of Ukrainian mathematicians who organized the boycott, said: “We welcome the decision of the IMU to withdraw the International Congress of Mathematicians from Russia. Unfortunately, this right call was not made before the full-scale invasion of Russian troops in our country. “

Mathematicians protest against holding a major conference in Russia

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