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Zhores Aleksandrovich Medvedev (Russian: Жорес Медведев) (born in Tbilisi, Georgia on November 14, 1925) is a Russian biologist, historian and dissident. His twin brother is the historian Roy Medvedev.



Zhores Medvedev was born on November 14,1925 in Tiflis, Georgia,USSR, the twin brother of Roy Medvedev. From 1926 until 1938 the family lived in Leningrad. His father Aleksandr Romanovich Medvedev was a professor of the Military-Political Academy with the military rank of brigade commissar. In August 1938, Aleksandr was arrested in the wave of political terror of the time and was charged as a "Bukharin follower" and sentenced to 8 years of forced labour. He died in March 1941 in one of the Kolyma Far Eastern camps. The family, mather Yalia with two sons Roy and Res (Zhores as a name was formed in 1941 by the addition of Zho to Res) moved to live in Rostov-on-Don. In September 1941 the family was evacuated to Tbilisi,shortly before the first German occupation of Rostov-on-Don. In Tbilisi in February 1943, Medvedev was drafted to the Soviet Army and after training was sent as a foot soldier to the Taman front where he took part in fighting and was wounded and later discharged from the army. In 1944, Medvedev became a student of the Moscow K.A. Timiriazev Agricultural Academy. In December 1950 he was awarded a PhD degree (candidat biologicheskikh nauk) for his research into sexual processes in plants. He was at first junior and from 1954 Senior research scientist of the agrochemistry and biochemistry department of Timiriazev Academy until 1963. In 1952 he turned his attention to the problems of ageing, concentrating on the turnover of proteins and nucleic acids. In 1961 he published the first paper suggesting that ageing is the result of an accumulation of errors in the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids. In 1962, Medvedev wrote his book on the history of Soviet genetics (Later published in the USA as "The Rise and Fall of T.D.Lysenko", Columbia Univ.Press,1969) which was widely circulated in a manuscript typewritten version known as "samizdat" or "self-publishing". In 1963, Medvedev moved to Obninsk to the Institute of Medical Radiology where he was appointed head of the molecular radiobiology laboratory. He published two books " Protein Biosynthesis and Problems of Heredity Development and Ageing" 1963 (English translation 1965 Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh) and "Molecular Mechanisms of Development", 1966 (English translation 1968, Plenum Press, New York). Medvedev was dismissed from his position in 1969 after the publication in the USA of his book "The Rise and the Fall of T.D.Lysenko". Between 1968-1970, Medvedev wrote two more "samizdat"books: "International Cooperation of Scientists and National Frontiers" and "Secrecy of Correspondence is guaranteed by Law" (about postal cenzorship in the USSR). They were published in 1971 as "Medvedev Papers" by Macmillan, London. These works were widely circulated in the USSR among scientists and this activity resulted in Medvedev´s arrest and forced detention in the Kaluga psychiatric hospital in May 1970. However this action produced many protests from prominent scientists (Academics Petr Kapitsa, Andrey Sakharov, Nikolai Semyonov,Boris Astaurov and others) and well known writers (Solzhenitysyn, Twardovsky, Tendriakov, Dudintsev, etc.) which resulted in Medvedev´s release (this experience was reflected in Zhores Medvedev´s and Roy Medvedev´s book "Question of Madness" published by Macmillan in London in 1971). In 1971, Medvedev was given the job of Senior scientist of The Institute of Physiology and Biochemistry of Farm Animals in Borovsk, Kaluga region. In 1972, Medvedev was invited for one year´s research by The National Institute of Medical Research in London at its new Genetic Division. While in London with wife Margarita and younger son, Dmitry Zhoresevich, Medvedev was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and his passport was confiscated. He remained in London and was working as full time Senior Research scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research until retirement in 1991. Medvedev published about 170 research papers and reviews, about 60 of them during his work in London. In 1980 Medvedev received British citizenship. In 1990 his Soviet citizenship was restored by decree of President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Received Ageing Research Award of US Association of Biogerontology 1984 and Rene Schubert Preis in Gerontology,1985


Career and dissent

Zhores Medvedev is famous for exposing the Kyshtym nuclear disaster which occurred at Mayak near Kyshtym, Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast in the Urals in 1957. He published the book "The Nuclear Disaster in the Urals" in 1979, W.W.Norton, New York

Medvedev was one of the earliest victims of official attempts to stifle opposition by detaining dissidents in mental institutions. In London Medvedev continued to edit the samizdat journal "XX Century" jointly with his brother, Roy.

His twin brother Roy Medvedev is a historian. They coauthored Khrushchev: The Years in Power released in 1978. The brothers also wrote several other books, the last one "The Unknown Stalin" 2007

He had two sons, the eldest of whom is deceased. The other, Dimitri, ran the "Blue Bridge Café" in Camden, London, before moving to Cornwell where he owns a farm and has children, Tomas (1997) and Alice (2000).


  • Unknown Stalin: His Life, Death, and Legacy (with Roy Medvedev, Ellen Dahrendorf - Translator) (Overlook Press, 2005) ISBN 1-58567-644-6
  • Legacy of Chernobyl (W W Norton & Co Inc, 1992) ISBN 0-393-30814-6
  • Soviet Agriculture (W W Norton & Co Inc, 1988) ISBN 0-393-02472-5
  • Gorbachev (W W Norton & Co Inc, 1987) ISBN 0-393-30408-6
  • Andropov (W W Norton & Co Inc, 1983) ISBN 0-393-01791-5
  • Nuclear Disaster in the Urals (1980) ISBN 0-394-74445-4
  • Gorbachev (1986) ISBN 0-631-14782-9
  • Molecular-Genetic Mechanisms of Development (1970) ISBN 0-306-30403-1
  • Medvedev Papers: Fruitful Meetings between Scientists of the World (1971) ISBN 0-333-12520-7
  • Ten Years after Ivan Denisovich (1974) ISBN 0-394-71112-2
  • Hazards of Nuclear Power (with Alan Roberts) (1977) ISBN 0-85124-211-1
  • Secrecy of Correspondence Is Guaranteed by Law (1975) ISBN 0-85124-128-X
  • Soviet Science (1978) ISBN 0-393-06435-2
  • Stalin and the Jewish Question: New Analysis (2003, in Russian) ISBN 5-7712-0251-7
  • Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov: Two Prophets (with Roy Medvedev) (2004, in Russian) ISBN 5-94117-065-3
  • Rise & Fall Of Trofim D. Lysenko ISBN 0-231-03183-1
  • Medvedev Papers: The Plight Of Soviet Science ISBN 3-331-25207-7
  • A Question Of Madness (with Roy Medvedev) ISBN 0-14-003783-7
  • Nuclear Disaster In The Urals (Trans George Saunders) ISBN 0-207-95896-3
  • Khrushchev: The Years In Power (with Roy Medvedev) ISBN 0-8357-0154-9
  • National Frontiers & International Scientific Cooperation (Medvedev Papers) Spokesman Books, 1975: ISBN 0-85124-127-1
  • Nutrition and Longevity (in Russian) 2007 ISBN 978-5-7712-0380-5
  • Polonium in London (in Russian) 2008 Molodaya Gvardia, Moscow:ISBN 978-5-235-03160-9




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