Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Medvedev, Zhores Aleksandrovich (1925–)

Soviet geneticist and dissident writer. The twin brother of Soviet historian Roy Medvedev, Zhores Medvedev was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 14 November 1925. His father, a Red Army officer, was arrested in 1938 during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's Great Purges and died working in the Kolyma mines. Zhores Medvedev studied at the Timiriazev Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Plant Physiology, earning a degree from both in 1950.

Medvedev is perhaps best known for his attacks on Soviet geneticist Trofim Lysenko and the latter's theory that acquired characteristics might be inherited. Perhaps Medvedev's best-known work, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko, was published in 1969. For this and other activities critical of the government, Soviet authorities confined him in a psychiatric hospital in 1970. He was released only after a campaign mounted by the world scientific community as well as some Soviet scientists. In 1973, while he was on a trip to Britain, Soviet authorities stripped him of his Soviet citizenship, forcing him into exile in London.

A prolific author, Medvedev has written some fifteen books related to agriculture, biochemistry, biology, the history of science, and history, many of them published in the West. He was the first to reveal to the West the Soviet nuclear accident at Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains in September 1957. He discussed this in detail in Nuclear Disaster in the Urals (1979), and in 1990 he chronicled the Chernobyl disaster as well. Medvedev has also written books with his brother, including Khrushchev: The Years in Power (1978). Now retired, Medvedev is a freelance scientist and journalist.

Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Medvedev, Roy A., and Zhores A. Medvedev. Khrushchev: The Years in Power. New York: Norton, 1978.; Medvedev, Roy A., and Zhores A. Medvedev. A Question of Madness. Translated by Ellen Kadt. London: Macmillan, 1971.; Medvedev, Roy A., and Zhores A. Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin: His Life, Death, and Legacy. Translated by Ellen Dadrendorf. New York: Overlook Press, 2004.; Medvedev, Zhores A. The Legacy of Chernobyl. New York: Norton, 1990.; Medvedev, Zhores A. Nuclear Disaster in the Urals. New York: Random House, 1979.; Medvedev, Zhores A. Soviet Agriculture. New York: Norton, 1987.; Medvedev, Zhores A. The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969.; Suny, Ronald Grigor. The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
 

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