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The consequences of political dictatorship for Russian science


The Soviet communist regime had devastating consequences on the state of Russian twentieth century science. Country Communist leaders promoted Trofim Lysenko — an agronomist and keen supporter of the inheritance of acquired characters — and the Soviet government imposed a complete ban on the practice and teaching of genetics, which it condemned as a “bourgeois perversion”. Russian science, which had previously flourished, rapidly declined, and many valuable scientific discoveries made by leading Russian geneticists were forgotten.

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Figure 1: Photo of Trofim Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935.
Figure 2: Nikolai Koltsov in his laboratory, 1929.
Figure 3: Giant hereditary molecules.


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The author thanks M. Adams, V. Chandhoke, K. Fryxell, G. Sher and G. Brillantes for their assistance and useful comments.

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Soyfer, V. The consequences of political dictatorship for Russian science. Nat Rev Genet 2, 723–729 (2001).

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