On 1 January 2015, a large new government office will take over Hungary's research-grant agency for basic science, OTKA. This will assume all budget management for research, development and innovation — destroying what the European Science Foundation has described as the agency's “high degree of political autonomy”.

A report by the foundation in November hailed OTKA as “the crown jewel of Hungary's R&D system; it is a professionally managed research council, whose procedures conform to the highest international standards. For several years, it has been in a constant process of improving its approaches and instruments, and it is obvious that OTKA will continue to do so”. This view accords with that of most Hungarian scientists.

You note that “in Hungary, where the pluralism is under threat, the writing is on the wall” (see Nature 515, 7–8; 2014). No scientist in Hungary expected that this prophecy would come true so soon.