6.7 Lysenkoites raise their heads

No 6 : 28 February 1969

The Molodaya Gvardiya publishing house was due to bring out a book by S. Reznik, Nikolai Vavilov, in its series “The Lives of Outstanding People”. In the book the role of T.D. Lysenko in the tragedy of our biological science is described objectively and in detail. On 19 December 1968 the book was passed as fit for publication. After a phone call from above, however, the whole edition was destroyed [see 10.14, “Book notes“].

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At the Institute of Medical Radiology of the Academy of Medical Sciences in Obninsk Zhores Medvedev, a Master of Biological Sciences, author of the well-known book The Personality Cult of Stalin and Biological Science and a member of the commission supervising the publication of the works of [the biologist] N. I. Vavilov, has been dismissed from his post ‘for incompatibility with the requirements of his job’. This ‘incompatibility’ was arranged as follows: on the instigation of the Academy an order was issued reorganizing laboratories with fewer than four workers into groups, and the laboratory headed by Zhores Medvedev, which had seven members, was reorganized into a group ‘compatible’ with this order. Medvedev, who had formerly filled the competitive post of head of the laboratory, was transferred to the post of acting senior research officer—’acting’, because he had naturally not competed for the post. And then he was sacked for ‘incompatibility’. According to some reports his dismissal was connected not only with the general offensive of the Lysenkoites but also with the impending publication of his book in an English translation in the United States.