Soviet Science in the Lenin-Stalin era (work in progress)



“Only conscious organisation of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can lift mankind above the rest of the animal world as regards the social aspect, in the same way that production in general has done this for men in their aspect as species. Historical evolution makes such an organisation daily more indispensable, but also with every day more possible. From it will date a new epoch of history, in which mankind itself, and with mankind all branches of its activity, and especially natural science, will experience an advance that will put everything preceding it in the deepest shade.” (Friedrich Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

M. V. LOMONOSOV (1711-1765) (polymath, universal genius)

Mikhail Lomonosov lived long before the Soviet Union, but deserves mention because he was recognized as the greatest Russian scientist in history. Lomonosov was a universal genius, contributing to practically every field of science: chemistry, biology, physics, minerology, optics, astronomy, as well as history, art and linguistics. He founded modern geology and influenced the formation of the modern Russian written language. Among his discoveries were the atmosphere of Venus and the conservation of mass in chemical reactions. His work was profoundly materialistic.

In 1940 the Moscow State University (which Lomonosov had founded) was renamed to Lomonosov University.

The great Soviet geologist A. Fersman said about Lomonosov:

“Dozens of books and hundreds of articles were written about Lomonosov; the most prominent investigators, scientists, writers and poets devoted their best pages to the analysis of this giant of Russian thought and it is still impossible to exhaust this subject, because the genius of Mikhail Lomonosov, this Arkhangelsk pomor was so great and profound…

Courage, resolve and daring bordering on stormy fantasy, a thirst to know everything, down to the root of things and to the source of all sources, and a capacity for profound philosophical analysis in combination with a brilliant ability to conduct experiments, without which he could not think of science, were some of Lomonosov’s traits. And whereas seven cities of antiquity debated the honour of keeping Homer’s grave, more than a dozen different sciences and arts arc lighting for the main heritage’ of Lomonosov: physics and chemistry, mineralogy and crystallography, geochemistry and physical chemistry, geology and mining, geography and meteorology, astronomy and astrophysics, regional science and economics, history, literature, philology and engineering. To be sure, Lomonosov was, as Pushkin was wont to say: a “whole university’’ in himself.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, pp. 347-348)

“Geochemistry for everyone” by A. Fersman contains information on Lomonosov’s work on chemistry, geology, minerology etc. especially the chapter “From the history of chemical ideas”.

K. A. TIMIRYAZEV (1843-1920) (Botanist, Physiologist, Darwinist)

Timiriazev was the biggest defender of Darwinism in Russia and was a true communist and a true scientist. As someone who deeply understood Darwinism, he was among the first to strongly criticize the reactionary Malthusian aspects in Darwinism. Timiryazev also was quick to recognize that the scientific merit of mendelism was extremely exaggerated, and that mendelism was used to attack Darwinism.

The Life Of The Plant by K. A. Timiryazev
“Mendel” (article for encyclopedia “Pomegranet”) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
“Luther Burbank” (article for encyclopedia “Pomegranet”) (in Russian, but auto-translate works)

The Baltic Deputy (1936) A very good movie inspired by the life of Timiryazev.

The great Soviet biologist T. D. Lysenko said:
“Eminent biologists, like V. O. Kovalevsky, I. I. Mechnikov, V. M. Sechenov and particularly K. A. Timiryazev, defended and developed Darwinism with all the passion of true scientists.” (The Situation in the Science of Biology,1948)

V. O. KOVALEVSKY (1842-1883) (Paleontologist, Darwinist)

Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky carried out important scientific work and translated many works of Darwin into Russian for the first time. His brother Alexander Kovalevsky, an embryologist, was also a significant materialist scientist.

On the Osteology of the Hyopotamidae by V. O. Kovalevsky

A. O. KOVALEVSKY (1840-1901, embryologist, Darwinist)

Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky was an important materialist scientist.

“Alexander Kovalevsky, the famous embryologist… trained the students to have clear materialist ideas…” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 74)

I. I. MECHNIKOV (1845-1916) (Zoologist, Immunologist, Darwinist)

Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov was also deeply influenced by Darwin’s work and helped propagate it. He discovered phagocytes and received a Nobel prize in physiology in 1908 for his work on immunity.

“Nikolai Umov, the physicist, and Alexander Kovalevsky, the famous embryologist… trained the students to have clear materialist ideas, taught them to seek in the external world for the causes of internal changes, as Sechenov had done when he proved that the external world determines the character of the higher nervous activity of animals and man, as Mechnikov and Pasteur had done when they explained the role of the external world in the origin and spread of diseases.

The higher course students remembered how Mechnikov had once begun one of his lectures with the words:

“There is a disease which causes restriction in man’s field of vision. First he sees everything round him, then what might be called blinkers form round his eyes. Finally he can only distinguish one shining point in front of him.”

Mechnikov said no more for a moment but narrowly watched his audience. Then he concluded:

“If some scientists voluntarily inflict this disease on themselves, by concerning themselves only with their own narrow speciality, their own subject of observation, one can definitely forecast that they will create nothing truly great or truly important for humanity.”” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, pp. 74-75)

Works of Mechnikov:
Immunity in infective diseases
The experimental prophylaxis of syphilis [with Maisonneuve & Roux]
The prolongation of life : optimistic studies
The new hygiene : three lectures on the prevention of infectious diseases
The nature of man : studies in optimistic philosophy
On the comparative pathology of inflammation (Lectures delivered at the Pasteur Institute in 1891)
Embryologische Studien an Medusen. Ein Beitrag zur Genealogie der Primitiv-organe

A. N. SEVERTSOV (1866-1936, biologist)

Aleksey Nikolaevich Severtsov was an influential Soviet biologist, founder of the evolutionary morphology of animals.

Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1920), Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1925), Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (1925), founder of the Russian school of evolutionary morphologists . The Institute of Evolutionary Morphology and Ecology of Animals of the USSR Academy of Sciences is named after him.

T. D. Lysenko and I. I. Prezent promoted Severtsov’s legacy and protected it from distortions.

(often called ‘Lysenkoism’)

I. V. MICHURIN (botanist, plant-breeder)

Before the October Revolution Ivan Michurin lived in economic difficulties which hindered his scientific research. He still created countless new plant varieties and American corporations tried to hire him. However, he did not want to leave his homeland. After the revolution his scientific work began on a bigger scale. He developed a truly materialist concept of heredity and had a deep and creative understanding of Darwin’s discoveries. Afterwards he was attacked by the capitalists, aristocratic scientists and out-of-touch dogmatists.

Michurin (1948) A nice Soviet film about the life and career of I. V. Michurin. Click the CC button for subtitles.

T. D. LYSENKO (agrobiologist)

Trofim Lysenko developed many scientific theories and concepts which became highly useful. His early research on vernalization and the theory of phasic development were recognized by the scientific community. Lysenko developed and applied the discoveries of Michurin. He opposed all idealism, dogmatism and separation of theory from practice. For Lysenko, practice was always the criterion of truth.

Lysenko came into conflict with snob-scientists who did not want to focus on real life problems. Lysenko came into conflict with the supporters of mendelian genetics (so-called ‘orthodox genetics’ invented by the Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel). For this reason Lysenko is attacked today. His critics claim that “Lysenko did not believe in genes”. However, this is a falsehood. Lysenko disagreed with the mendelists’ idealist definition of genes. For the mendelists, heredity (genes) were totally separate and isolated from the organism, they could not be influenced or altered by changes to the organism or to its living conditions. The genes were conceptualized as indestructible – even immortal – by idols of the mendelists such as August Weismann. Lysenko could not agree with these idealist, metaphysical and mystical notions.

For Lysenko, heredity was a more complicated interaction between the chromosomes and the DNA, the entire organism, and its environment. The heredity of an organism cannot be reduced to isolated genes, and these genes cannot be seen as unchanging. Lysenko produced significant discoveries. He helped reduce effects of plant-disease, contributed significantly to preventing famine during WWII, demonstrated the harmful effects of inbreeding in agriculture and combated distortions of darwinism. Lysenko promoted the theoretical developments of Michurin, Timiryazev, V. R. Williams and others, and systematized them to what he called Michurinist Agrobiology, or Soviet Creative Darwinism. Lysenko and his colleagues invented new agricultural techniques, new plant varieties and considerably improved agricultural yields.

Lysenko disagreed with the idea that animals evolve purely individualistically. He said that mutual aid of animals of the same species living in the same group or herd, is just as important (if not more important) than competition. Lysenko’s view was shared by the great Darwinist Timiriazev, but it is considered heretical by western “neo-darwinists”.

Lysenko also disagreed with the notion invented by western mendelist Thomas Morgan, that evolution and heredity are completely random. Lysenko said there must be reasons and laws governing evolution, mainly environmental factors, and heredity must also be influenced by the environment. Lysenko said that if heredity was completely random, we could never breed any plants or animals. His opinion was shared by Michurin who famously said: “We cannot simply wait for favors from nature, we have to wrest them from her”. Michurin meant that agriculturists must use scientific methods to breed new plants, instead of merely waiting for results from the supposedly random processes. For all these reasons Lysenko was attacked by his opponents.

Lysenko strongly opposed using western inbred corn, because it was unsuitable to Soviet conditions, unsustainable and risky. He was proven correct when Khrushchev’s attempt to use western inbred corn in the USSR failed completely. Western farming methods have been shown to be risky, prone to pests without constant use of massive amounts of poisons, and ecologically unsustainable.

Later I will write a full article about Lysenko (with sources) and debunk many of the myths about him.

The Great Force (1950) is another nice film about Michurinist biology.

Land In Bloom by V. Safonov (pdf) (archive) (An excellent and entertaining history of biological sciences from before Darwin to Soviet Science. Recommended reading)

(book by Alliance ML. This book has a lot of good information and debunks many lies about Lysenko. It is one of the better books available on the topic. However, the book also makes many mistakes, relies on bad, unreliable capitalist sources, and in particular gets the section on Lepishinskaya entirely wrong – and only due to relying on bad sources!)

The Fundamentals of Michurin Biology by V. N. Stoletov (Audiobook)

I.V. Michurin – the great transformer of nature by A. N. Bakharev (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)

The philosophical significance of the theoretical legacy of I.V. Michurin by A. A. Rubashevsky (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)

Fly-lovers and human-haters by Prof. A. N. Studitski (Russian) (English)

Works of Lysenko:
Agrobiology: essays on problems of genetics, plant breeding and seed growing
Theory of Vernalization (1935)
Plant Breeding and the Theory of Phasic Development of Plants (1935) with I. I. Prezent
Intravarietal Crossing and Mendel’s so called “Law” of Segregation (1938)
Hereditary Constitution
Controlling the nature of plants (1940)
Converting Winter Wheat (1940)
Degeneration of Potatoes (1943)
Improving potatoes by culture
Vegetative Hybrids (1946)
Soil Nutrition of Plants (1953)
Distant Hybrids (1954)
Sunflowers and Broom Rape (1954)
Hybrid Maize (1955)
Soviet Biology: Report to the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1948)
New Developments in the Science of Biological Species (1951)

Works of Michurin:
The results of sixty years of work (1949) (text) (archive) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Principles and methods of work (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Breeding new cultivated varieties of fruit trees and shrubs from seeds (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Selected Works of Michurin (English) (Russian)
Seeds, their life and preservation (1915)
The Orchid Lily (1915)
Pyrus elaeagnifolia (1915)
Noodle Squash (1925)
Improving pear trees by layering (1929)
Layering Tubes (1929)
Vegetative Approximation (1929)
Age and condition of parents (1929)
Frost-resistant Peaches (1929)
High Atmospheric Pressure (1929)
Breeding Apples
Vegetative Pear (1932)
Short-Season Grapes (1934)
Selection of Seedlings (1934)
Actinidia varieties (Kiwi fruit)
Hybridizing (1952)
Pear grafted on Lemon (1952)

Hansen on Michurin and Tsitsin (1941)
Liang: China’s Achievements in Michurin Genetics (1959)
Konstantinova: Michurin methods, alfalfa (1960)

Works of Luther Burbank: (An American plant-breeder, who was widely respected in the USSR)
Luther Burbank (biography) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Luther Burbank. Wilbur Hall. Harvest of life (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Selected Works of L. Burbank (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Beach Plum, Prunus maritima (1901)
Crinums (1912)
California Poppies (1914)
California Poppies part 2 (1914)
Burbank, Wilks: Shirley Poppies
Walnuts (1914)
Giant Winter Rhubarb (1914)
Raspberry-Blackberry Hybrids (1914)
White Blackberry (1914)
Raspberry x Strawberry Hybrids (1914)
Domesticating the Camassias (1914)
Heuchera micrantha, curled leaf (1914)
Corn Selection – Illinois (1914)
Fatherless Beans (1914)
Shasta Daisies (1914)
Stamen Counters (1914)
Stoneless Plums (1914)
Plum hybrids with Prunus maritima & P. besseyi (1914)
Sunberry (1914)
Hybrids of pears with apples, quinces (1914)
Papago Sweet Corn (1919)
Sorghum Pop (1920)

Smith: New Winter Rhubarb (1903)
Harwood: Burbank’s California Poppies (1905)
Bland: Burbank’s Winter Rhubarb (1915)
Howard: Burbank the Pariah — of Scientists (1945/6)

Academician N. F. Kashchenko is an outstanding Michurinist biologist (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Memories of N.F. Kashchenko (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
M. V. Ritov. Selected works (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
The Green laboratory by B. Dizhur (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

Finnish works on Michurinism:
Darwin and the continuers of his work by Erkki Rautee (translated by myself)
On living matter and its transition to cell form by Heikki Kuusinen (translated by myself)
Capitalism threatens humanity with starvation by A. Hulkkonen (translated by myself)

OLGA LEPESHINSKAYA (microbiologist)

O. Lepeshinskaya was a michurinist biologist who studied the development of cells. She demonstrated how cells developed during their lives, and how living matter organized itself.

There is an article on Lepeshinskaya in In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

A. N. STUDITSKY (medical biologist)

Studitsky particularly studied regeneration and wound-healing. He applied michurinist teachings to his work and demonstrated their validity in practice: he successfully regenerated muscles from minced tissues, and managed to re-grow completely healthy avian bones from small fragments.

Studitsky’s achievements are impressive but they’ve been acknowledged even by modern-day capitalist researchers, for example:

Relationship Between the Tissue and Epimorphic Regeneration of Muscles, Carlson
The Regeneration of Skeletal Muscle – A Review, Carlson
Types of Morphogenetic Phenomena in Vertebrate Regenerating Systems, Carlson

List of some scientific papers and articles by Studitsky

A. I. OPARIN (biochemist)

Alexander Oparin was a biochemist who studied the origins of life from non-living matter. In 1924 he presented the hypothesis that life has emerged through the chemical evolution of carbon based molecules in the so-called ‘primordial soup’. Throughout his career Oparin further developed this idea. He showed convincingly how life emerged naturally without the need for any kind of supernatural creator. Oparin refuted both idealist vitalism and mechanistic models, and defended the correctness of dialectical materialism.

There is an article on Oparin in In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

Works of Oparin:
The Origin Of Life (1952)
The Origin Of Life (1955)
The origin of life on the earth (1957)

ISAAK PREZENT (Michurinist, Philosopher)

Prezent was one of the most important michurinist philosophers of science and a close collaborator of T. D. Lysenko.

Embryo Culture (1948)
Vegetative Tomato Hybrid (1948)

И. В. Мичурин и его учение, Презент, Исаак Израилевич [I. V. Michurin and his doctrine, Isaak Prezent]

G. V. PLATONOV (1918-2006, Michurinist, Philosopher of science)

I. GLUSHCHENKO (biologist)

Doctor of Agriculture Science; Professor; Director, Laboratory of Plant Genetics, Institute of Genetics, USSR Academy of Science, since 1939; member, All Union Lenin Academy, of Agriculture Science, since 1956. Order of Red Banner of Labor; two Stalin Prizes, 1943, 1950. Member of the Communist Party since 1938.

ВЕГЕТАТИВНАЯ ГИБРИДИЗАЦИЯ РАСТЕНИЙ [Vegetative hybridization of plants] (1948)
The importance of vegetative hybridization to understanding the heredity of plants (1950)
Glushchenko: Polyfertilization (1957)

N. I. NUZHDIN (biologist)

Graduated from the Yaroslavl Pedagogical Institute in 1929, employee of the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1935. Received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1945). In 1949-1952 he headed the Department of Zoology at the K. A. Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow.

D. A. DOLGUSHIN (biologist)

Agrobiologist and selectionist. Doctor of Agriculture Science since 1936; full member, All-Union Lenin Academy, of Agriculture Science, since 1948. Stalin Prize, 1941; Order of Red Banner of Labor.

V. N. STOLETOV (biologist)

The Fundamentals of Michurin Biology by V. N. Stoletov (Audiobook)
List of some scientific papers and articles by Stoletov

N. V. TURBIN (biologist)

Oddities of Segregation (1948)
List of some scientific papers and articles by Turbin

I. D. KOLESNIK (1900-1953, agrobiologist)

Ivan Danilovich Kolesnik graduated from the Poltava Agricultural Institute (1931), researcher at the Research Institute of Fruit and Berry Farming of the Ukrainian SSR (1931-1935), senior researcher at the Ukrainian Institute of Selection (1935-1938), experimental base of the All-Union Agricultural Academy of Agricultural Sciences “Gorki Leninskie” (1939-1941), All-Union Agricultural Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1941-1946). At the same time, in 1942-1946, deputy head of the Main Directorate of the Vegetable Rubber Industry of the People’s Commissariat of the Rubber Industry of the USSR.

Since 1946, director of the Research Institute of Natural Rubber, since 1947, head of the laboratory of mass-production experiments of the All-Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Candidate of Agricultural Sciences (1937), Academician of VASKhNIL (1948).

I. D. Kolesnik was awarded the Great Gold Medal of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (1939), the Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1940), the Stalin Prize (1943) and the medal “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War” (1946)

“As far as the hill sowing of kok-saghyz is concerned, I only suggested the idea. For the elaboration and practical application of this method credit must be given to Stalin Prize winner I. D. Kolesnik and to the collective-farm members of Kiev Region.” (Lysenko, Why bourgeois science is up in arms against the work of Soviet scientists, Agrobiology, p. 511)

A. A. AVAKIAN (1907-1966, Michurinist Biologist)

Colleague of T. D. Lysenko. Graduated from Yerevan Agricultural Institute (1931). He worked as an agronomist-cotton grower at the Sardarpat state farm of the Armenian SSR (1931-1932). Postgraduate student of the All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Growing (1932-1935). Senior researcher, head of the department of genetics of the All-Union Research Institute of Selection and Genetics (1936-1939). Head of the genetics department of the experimental base of the All-Union Agricultural Academy of Agricultural Sciences “Gorki Leninskie” (1939-1941). Head of the Laboratory of Plant Genetics at the Institute of Genetics of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1941-1944). Senior researcher, head of the potato department of the Moldavian Agricultural Complex Experimental Station of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Moldavian SSR (1944-1946). Head of the laboratory of genetics, and. O. director, senior researcher at the experimental base of the All-Union Agricultural Academy of Agricultural Sciences “Gorki Leninskie” (1946-1966).

Doctor of Agricultural Sciences (1941)
Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946)
Full member of VASKhNIL (1948)

Avakian was awarded the following prizes:
Laureate of the Stalin Prize (1941, 1951)
Order of Lenin (1949)
Order of the Badge of Honor (1939)
Small Gold Medal of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (1939)

N. V. TSITSIN (botanist, biologist)

“Academician Tsitsin, by crossing wheat with couch grass, produced a new variety of perennial wheat that is impervious to drought. In a conversation he had with Academician Tsitsin, Comrade Stalin said: “Be bolder in your experiments, we will support you.” (A History of the USSR, ed. A. M. Pankratova (1948) vol.3, p. 380)

Hansen on Michurin and Tsitsin (1941)

M. F. IVANOV (1871-1935, animal breeder)

Mikhail Fedorovich Ivanov was a significant Soviet animal breeder, teacher. He was one of the founders of the zootechnical experimentation industry in the USSR. He was awarded the Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR in 1929 and was elected to the position of academician of VASKhNIL in 1935.

“Academician V. R. Williams contributed a great deal to the theory of agrobiology in the sphere of agronomy, as has Academician M. F. Ivanov in the field of animal husbandry.” (Lysenko, Engels and certain problems of darwinism, Agrobiology, p. 350)

V. L. KOMAROV (1869-1945, botanist)

Botanist Vladimir Leontievich Komarov was awarded numerous awards such as Hero of Socialist Labor (10/13/1944), three orders of Lenin (1939, 1944, 1945) and two first degree Stalin Prizes in 1941 for the work “The doctrine of the species in plants” and in 1942 as part of a team for the work “On the development of the national economy of the Urals in war conditions”. Komarov was the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1936 to his death in 1945.

CHAGANAK BERSIYEV (1881-1944, agricultural innovator)

“The late Chaganak Bersiyev, a Kazakh collective-farm member and one of the foremost millet growers, achieved most admirable results. He obtained yields for millet that have not been matched anywhere in the world for any grain whatever, namely, 1,200 to 1,300 poods per hectare. This record even surpassed the yields that theoretical calculations had forecast as the highest possible.” (Lysenko, The tasks of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the USSR, Agrobiology, p. 494)

“The western part of north Kazakhstan is famous for its millet. It was here, in the Aktyubinsk Region, that the Kazakh collective farmer Chaganak Bersiev raised the record crop of 20.1 tons of millet per hectare in 1943. (This is roughly equivalent to 9 short tons per acre.) Before the advance of the collective farms the soil in these parts of the country yielded no more than about three-tenths of a ton of millet per hectare—less than one-sixtieth of Bersiev’s record.

Calculating the amount of solar energy a plant is capable of absorbing, the celebrated Russian scientist Williams maintained that it is possible to raise the yield of cereals to over 8 tons per acre. This would appear fantastic, but Soviet collective farmer Bersiev, has not only justified Williams’ forecast, but has even surpassed it. And this peasant was a Kazakh, a representative of the people whom the tsarist colonizers considered incapable of pursuing field husbandry. Bersiev’s initiative has developed into a nationwide movement. The collective farmers have been won over en masse to advanced agrotechnical methods of millet cultivation.” (N. Mikhailov, The sixteen republics of the Soviet Union, pp. 63-64)

Bersiyev was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1940.

V. P. BUSHINSKY (1885-1960, agrobiologist)

Vladimir Petrovich Bushinsky was a Russian scientist in the field of soil science and agriculture. Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939), Academician of the All-Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1948). Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR (1937).

“He graduated from the Moscow Agricultural Institute (1911), in 1906-1915 he participated in the research work of the Department of Soil Science.

Since 1914, associate professor at the Higher Courses for the Training of Specialists in Meadow Growth. Since 1916 professor. In 1916-1922 head. chair of soil science of the Saratov Agricultural Institute, at the same time in 1918-1921 professor and dean of the agronomic faculty of Saratov University .

In 1921-1928 in the bodies of the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR . Simultaneously with 1922 head of the Department of Soil Science of the Moscow Forestry Institute and Professor of the Department of Soil Science of the Moscow Agricultural Academy.

From 1922 to 1951 he was director of the All-Union Institute of Agrosoil Science, the Institute for the Study of Salt and Irrigated Lands, and head of the Soil and Biological Laboratory of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Since 1939, head of the Department of Soil Science of the Moscow Agricultural Academy.

Doctor of Agricultural Sciences (1937).

In 1948, he sharply criticized the work of the Soil Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, in the spirit of the decisions of the August session of the All-Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.” (Wikipedia)

He was given the following awards:

3 orders of the Red Banner of Labor
2 orders of the Red Star
Order of the Badge of Honor
Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR (1937)
Medal of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition

T. S. MALTSEV (1895-1994, agrotechnician)

Terenty Semyonovich Maltsev is famous for developing a new system of plowing. In WWI Maltsev was imprisoned by the Germans and in 1919 together with other prisoners he created the Russian section of the Communist Party of Germany. He returned to the USSR and in the 1920s he acted as a village council chairman and started his work on farming technique. In the 1920s he created a farming cooperative with other villagers. He joined the CPSU(B) in 1939. Maltsev was self-taught and his personal library consisted of thousands of books. He was elected an honorary academician.

He has received the following awards:

Hero of Socialist Labor (1955 and 1975)
Hammer and Sickle Gold Medal (1955 and 1975)
Six Orders of Lenin (1942, 1955, 1966, 1973, 1975, 1985)
Order of the October Revolution (1971)
Orders of the Red Banner of Labor (1949 and 1972)
Order of the Badge of Honor (1957)
Medal “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945”
Large gold medal of the All- Union Agricultural Exhibition (1940)
Large gold medal named after I. V. Michurin (1954)
Honored Worker of Agriculture of the USSR (1983)
Stalin Prize of the third degree, 1946 – for improving the varieties of grain and vegetable crops and for the development and implementation of advanced agrotechnical farming methods in agriculture, which ensured high yields in the arid Trans-Urals
W. R. Williams Prize, (1973)
Order of the “Star of Friendship of Peoples” in gold, 1986, German Democratic Republic
Honorary Academician of VASKhNIL (1956)
Honorary citizen of Russia and diploma of the Council of the Russian Chamber – for special services to the people “in the preservation and development of the best traditions of the Russian peasantry”, (1992)
Honorary citizen of the Kurgan region (2003)
Honorary citizen of the city of Shadrinsk (1975)
In 1989, the grain growers of the Central Aimag of Mongolia established a prize named after. T. S. Maltsev.


V. D. OGIEVSKY (1861-1921), G. N. VYSOTSKY (1865-1940) & G. F. MOROZOV (1867-1920)

Vasily Dmitrievich Ogievsky, Georgy Nikolaevich Vysotsky and Georgy Fedorovich Morozov, were the top forestry experts of pre-revolutionary Russia and also worked with the Soviet state. They supported progressive policies such as nationalization of forests. They followed the theories of V. Dokuchaev.

“Some forestry experts like Morozov, Vysotsky and Ogiyevsky, who were well acquainted with forest life, made correct practical recommendations but at that time it was beyond their power to change biological theory, to throw overboard the reactionary thesis of intraspecific struggle. Therefore, the practical recommendations of these scientists were shelved indefinitely while the false theoretical propositions on forest cultivation persisted until the recent past.” (Lysenko, Agrobiology, p. 565)

“”These observations were the occasion for a special report by G. N. Vysotsky in 1893 in which he developed his idea that underbrush should be introduced instead of elms. In his opinion the underbrush would shade the soil during the first few years, the same as the elms did, but would not choke off the oaks.” [M. K. Tursky’s textbook Silviculture (1929)]

I have quoted this passage from Tursky’s textbook in order to show that In practice some foresters discerned, practically sensed, the existence of interspecific struggle and mutual assistance. They also knew that different species under different conditions behave differently toward each other. Practical forest cultivation shows that combinations of secondary forest-tree species must be chosen with skill so that they may help and not hinder the dominant species, such as oaks and pines.” (Lysenko, Agrobiology, p. 566)

“Some foresters recommended that oaks be sown or planted not singly but patchwise. Ogiyevsky, true enough, experimented in patchwise sowing of oak on a rather large scale, on hundreds of hectares, not for the steppe but for the forest zone (Tulskiye Zaseki). He sowed about 200 acorns on each 2 sq. m. patch. He saw and realized that in a forest zone the oaks’ chief enemy is the aspen and in order to protect the oak from the aspen he sowed the former thickly in patches in the expectation that a great number of oak sprouts on a small patch of land would be able to withstand the pressure of other species. As we know, this experiment of Ogiyevsky’s proved a splendid success.

That Ogiyevsky’s experiment in thickly planting forests patchwise should be made use of in our practical work is not the only point here. This old-time experiment also implies that its author realized from his observation of forest life that what existed in nature was not intraspecific but interspecific competition while in science false theses continued to exist.” (Lysenko, Agrobiology, p. 566)


The political economy of hybrid corn (a critique of hybrid corn) by Jean-Pierre Berlan & R.C. Lewontin. The authors follow mendelism, but this is a good article.
The commoditization of science (a critique of profit-motive in science) by Richard Levins & Richard Lewontin. The authors follow mendelism, but this is a good article. [Audio version]
Stalin’s Environmentalism by Stephen Brain. This is a bourgeois article but it demonstrates the environmental protection (of forests in particular) in the Stalin era.


VASILY DOKUCHAEV (1846-1903, geologist, pioneer of ecology, founder of modern soil science)

V. Dokuchaev was the founder of modern Soil Science. He lived before the Soviet Union, however his work was continued by Soviet scientists. The weakening quality of soil in the Russian Empire and resulting famines inspired Dokuchaev to create modern soil science. He had to struggle against the Tsarist authorities. His work was continued and further developed by Soviet scientists, particularly Vasily R. Williams and T. D. Lysenko.

Dokuchaev discovered the reasons for the weakening of soil fertility. The reasons were related to depletion, climate change and structure of the soil. He began to understand the soil as an interrelated process of chemical, biological and hydrological factors. He advocated the planting of large forest shelter-belts to halt desertification and climate change. This plan started to be implemented in the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, but was cancelled by revisionists after Stalin’s death.

Dokuchaev also advocated protection of forests and waters in order to protect nature, the soil, climate, and as a result also the fragile agriculture of Russia. These protections were implemented only in the Stalin era but dismantled by revisionists immediately after Stalin’s death.

During his research of the Russian Chernozem Dokuchaev began to understand the soil as an evolving phenomena with a history. This concept of the evolution of soil was the crucial thing which helped V. I. Vernadsky make his discoveries.

The Fundamentals of Michurin Biology by V. N. Stoletov (Audiobook) contains information on the career and discoveries of Dokuchaev.

Tchernozéme (terre noire) de la Russie d’Europe (Dokuchaev’s famous work Russian Chernozem in French)
Short scientific review of Proffessor Dokuchaev’s and his pupil’s collection of soils, exposed in Chicago, in the year 1893

P. A. KOSTYCHEV (1845-1895, one of the founders of soil science)

P. A. Kostychev together with Dokuchaev helped create modern soil science, which was continued by Soviet scientists, particularly Vasily R. Williams and his co-workers.

K. K. GEDROYTS (1872-1932 soil scientist, agrochemist)

Konstantin Kaetanovich Gedroyts (sometimes spelled Gedroitz) is the founder of colloidal soil chemistry.

Graduated from the St. Petersburg Forestry Institute in 1898. Received the title of Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the Department of Physical and Mathematical Sciences in 1927. The same year, he was elected president of the International Association of Soil Scientists and awarded the Lenin Prize.

Was elected Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the Department of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (soil science , agronomic chemistry) in 1929. Became Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in 1930. He was also a Corresponding Member of the Czechoslovak Agricultural Academy.

“Academician K. Gedroitz, well-known soil scientist, was the first to divine the geochemical nature of the soil. He found in it the particles which retain different metals, especially potassium, and demonstrated that the fertility of the soil in large measure depended on the potassium atoms which are so lightly and so loosely connected with it that each plant cell could absorb these atoms and make use of them for its own life. And it is by absorbing these lightly-bound, seemingly free-hanging, potassium atoms that the plant develops its sprouts.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, p. 147)

VASILY R. WILLIAMS (1863-1939, soil scientist, ecologist)

Well-known Russian scientist, soil researcher, grassland ecologist, agronomist, one of the founders of agricultural soil science. Head of Timiryazev Academy in 1907-1908 and 1922-1925. Williams developed the travopol’e system which protected soil and increased agricultural yields by planting grasses and other protective plants.

He was awarded the Order of Lenin, was elected into the Supreme Soviet, and was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences

The teaching of Williams was synthesized together with the teachings of I. V. Michurin, into Michurinist agrobiology, Soviet Creative Darwinism.

The Fundamentals of Michurin Biology by V. N. Stoletov (Audiobook) contains information on the career and discoveries of Williams.

“Prof. V. R. Williams” by E. John Russell (written on the occasion of the death of Williams)

P. A. TUTKOVSKY (Geologist)

Pavel Apollonovich Tutkovsky (biography) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Autobiography of P. A. Tutkovsky (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Bibliography of P. A. Tutkovsky (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)

Works of P. A. Tutkovsky:
Fossil deserts of the northern hemisphere (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Geological research along the Kiev-Kovel railway under construction (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Volyn excursion guide (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Geographical reasons for the invasions of the barbarians (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Natural distribution of Ukraine (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Amber in the Volyn province (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Who didn’t like the landscapes of Ukraine (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Coast of the Lva River (Geographical and geological description) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
The oldest mining industry in Volyn (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Glossary of geological terminology (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Landscapes of Ukraine (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Caucasian beauty Azalea (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Geological outline of Vladimir-Volynsky, Kovelsky and Ovruchsky districts of Volyn province (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)
Southwestern edge. Popular natural history and geographical essays (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)

N. S. KURNAKOV (1860-1941, chemist, geochemist)

Nikolai Semyonovich Kurnakov is internationally recognized as the originator of physicochemical analysis. He also was one of the principal founders of the platinum industry in the USSR. A chemical reaction that he pioneered, known as the Kurnakov test, is still used to differentiate cis from trans isomers of divalent platinum and is his best-known contribution to coordination chemistry.

Kurnakov was a colleague of D. I. Mendeleev. He received several prizes for his work, for example, the Mendeleev Prize in 1936, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1939 and the Stalin Prize in 1941. The mineral kurnakovite was named in his honor.

Kurnakovplayed an important role in finding the first potassium deposits in the USSR. The discovery was made while Kurnakov was working in the laboratory on the composition of salt from old Permian salt-works. After Kurnakov found a high potassium content in the salt, Geologist P. I. Preobrazhensky carried out the test borings which confirmed the discovery. He became famous for this potassium deposit, which is the largest in the world.

P. I. PREOBRAZHENSKY (1874-1944, geologist)

Pavel Ivanovich Preobrazhensky is famous as discoverer of the world’s largest deposit of potassium-magnesium salts (Verkhnekamskoe). This discovery was made based on the initial findings of N. S. Kurnakov.

Preobrazhensky worked in the territory controlled by white general Kolchak in 1919-20 and was appointed as minister of public education. As a result he was arrested by the Reds and sentenced to forced labor when Kolchak was defeated. However, Maxim Gorky and V. I. Lenin intervened on his behalf. He was given the opportunity to serve the proletariat through his scientific work. He became professor in 1922 and was the head of the Departments of Geology and Mineralogy of Perm University in 1923-1924. He became Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences in 1935. He made the famous potassium discovery in 1934. He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1934 and the Order of the Badge of Honor in 1944.

“Russian explorers tried for many years to find potassium deposits in Russia. Individual conjectures proved fruitless until the persistent work of a whole school of young chemists supervised by Academician N. Kurnakov resulted in the discovery of the world’s largest potassium deposits. The discovery was accidental, but accidents in science are usually the result of long and laborious preparation, while the “accidental discovery” is nearly always merely the last step in the lengthy struggle for the effectuation of a definite idea and a reward for a protracted and persistent search.

This also holds true of the discovery of potassium. Academician Kurnakov had studied the country’s salt-lakes for many decades and his mind persistently searched for the remains of the ancient potassium lakes. While working in the laboratory on the composition of salt from old Permian salt-works Nikolai Kurnakov noticed in some cases a high potassium content.

On a visit to one of the salt-works he observed a small piece of brown-red mineral which reminded him of the red potassium salts, the carnallites of the German deposits. True, the personnel of the salt-works were not sure where this piece had come from and whether it had not been from the collection of the salts they had received from Germany. But Academician Kurnakov took the piece, put it in his pocket and went to Leningrad.

Upon analysis he found much to everybody’s surprise that the piece was potassium chloride. The first strike was made, but that was not enough; it was still necessary to prove that this piece of potassium had come from the entrails of the Solikamsk earth and that there were large deposits there. A hole had to be bored, some salt extracted under the difficult conditions of the twenties and its composition studied.

P. Preobrazhensky, one of the most prominent geologists of the Geological Committee, undertook to do the work. He pointed out the necessity of boring deep holes, and soon these holes reached thick layers of potassium salts, thus opening a new era in the history of potassium over the entire surface of the earth… A small piece of brown-red salt noticed by the keen eye of a scientist in the laboratory of the works thus led to the solution of one of the greatest problems, the problem of potassium. The country was now in a position not only fully to provide the fields with fertilizer and to increase their yield, but also to create a new potassium industry and to produce the most diverse potassium salts so indispensable to chemical production.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, pp. 150-153)

V. I. VERNADSKY (1863-1945, mineralogist, founder of geochemistry, biogeochemistry and radiogeology)

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, one of the founders of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and radiogeology. He invented the concept of the ecological biosphere (though he wasn’t the first to coin the word itself). He is most noted for his 1926 book The Biosphere and was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1943.

The founders of geochemistry were Russian and Soviet scientists and the field of geochemistry was largely founded in the USSR. All the greatest discoveries of geochemistry were made by Soviet scientists.

“Geochemistry is still a young science and it has come to the fore mainly owing to the work of Soviet scientists.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, p. 18)

“Soviet geochemistry has made such headway that it has quite deservedly won the most honourable place in world geochemical science. The basis for the Russian school of geochemistry was laid at Moscow University by academicians V. Vernadskv and A. Fersman” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, p. 357)

However, A. Fersman notes in his book also the significance of American scientist F. Clarke (1847-1931) and the Norwegian scientists J. Vogt (1858-1932) and V. Moritz Goldschmidt for the birth of geochemistry. (Ibid. p. 357)

Geochemistry for everyone by A. Fersman contains information on Vernadsky, especially the chapter “From the history of chemical ideas”.

There is an article on Vernadsky in In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

P. A. KARPINSKY (1847-1936, Geologist)

Important Russian and Soviet geologist. President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1917–1936. In 1947 (on the centenary of his birth) the Academy of Sciences of the USSR created the Karpinsky Gold Medal, awarded for outstanding contributions in the field of geology.

F. N. CHERNYSHOV (1856-1914, Geologist, Paleontologist)

Great geologist Feodosy Nikolayevich Chernyshov studied under Karpinsky. The Leningrad Central Geological Research Museum was named “The Chernyshov Museum” in his honor.

P. A. KROPOTKIN (1842-1921, Geographer, Zoologist)

Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a zoologist and geographer of aristocratic background. He turned his back on the aristocracy and influenced by utopian socialism became a revolutionary.

Kropotkin’s politics:
Kropotkin advocated anarcho-communism. Kropotkin never overcame his aristocratic individualism and utopianism which are evident in all his work and writing. However, he wrote effective (albeit utopian) critiques of capitalism and tsarism. After the February Revolution Kropotkin got entangled in opportunism and was supportive of the Mensheviks and Kerensky’s provisional government. After the Great October Socialist Revolution Kropotkin was in contacts with various menshevik, monarchist, capitalist and other reactionary anti-communist elements conspiring against the Soviet government, but he never entered into an active fight against the Bolsheviks. This is characteristic of Kropotkin’s softness, wavering wishy-washy utopianism, indecisiveness. Kropotkin was confused and wavered, hung out with reactionary elements. He did not want to betray the revolution but also did not understand it.

Kropotkin as a scientist:
Kropotkin sympathized with darwinism but fought strongly against malthusian ideas and social-darwinism. He was correct to do this, but did not do it from a firmly materialist, sufficiently scientific standpoint, but from a standpoint unfortunately influenced by his overall utopianism.

All the progressive scientists were seeing the reactionary stagnant nature of tsarism, and so did Kropotkin. Kropotkin made some significant discoveries in geology:

“This hypothesis of drifting, i.e., floating, ice persisted in science until the sixties or seventies of last century when some scientists, including Kropotkin, Russian geographer and revolutionary, advanced the hypothesis of continental glaciation. At first this hypothesis appeared monstrous because it was hard to conceive that all of Europe, down to London and Berlin, had formerly been covered with ice. But gradually such facts as moraines, outwash plains, eskers, crag and tails, and roches moutonnees, which the hypothesis of drifting could not explain, compelled everybody to accept the hypothesis of glaciation.

Subsequent detailed observations all over Europe and North America fully confirmed it and from a hypothesis it became a theory. But for a long time yet, almost up to the time of the October Socialist Revolution, while recognizing the glaciation of all of Europe and North America, scientists denied glaciation of the north of Asia (Siberia), believing that its climate was too continental for it, i.e., poor in atmospheric precipitations. But already 70 years ago the same Kropotkin discovered signs of
glaciation in several places in Siberia and assumed that the north of Asia had also gone through an ice age. Only the observations accumulated little by little forced everybody to recognize that Siberia, too, had been under an ice sheet.” (V. Obruchev, Fundamentals Of Geology, p. 161)

F. Y. LEVINSON-LESSING (1861-1939, Geologist)

Feodor Yulievich Levinson-Lessing graduated from the physico-mathematical faculty of the University of St. Petersburg in 1883, was placed in charge of the geological collection in 1886, and was appointed privat-docent at St. Petersburg University in 1889. In 1892 he became professor, and the next year dean, of the physico-mathematical faculty of Yuryev University. Aside from his work on petrography he published also essays in other branches of geology, the result of scientific journeys throughout Russia. He was influenced by V. Dokuchaev.

Works of Levinson-Lessing:
Petrographisches lexikon. Repertorium der petrographischen termini und benennungen
Геологический очерк усадьбы Южно-Заозерск на Северном Урале

B. B. GOLITSYN (physicist, one of the founders of seismology)

Boris Borisovich Golitsyn was a prominent Russian physicist who invented the first electromagnetic seismograph in 1906. He was one of the founders of modern Seismology. In 1911 he was chosen to be the president of the International Seismology Association. Despite his aristocratic background (he was a part of the small-gentry, member of one of the noble families with the most members) he was held in high regard in the USSR due to his extraordinary scientific discoveries.

“The studies of earthquake waves registered by sensitive instruments, called seismographs, clearly show that there are shells of different composition in the interior of the earth. The very sensitive instruments invented by B. Golitsyn, Soviet academician, has made it possible to detect not only the waves that travel the shortest route but also those which run around the entire globe and those that are reflected from the borders of layers of the earth of different densities, for example, from the core of the earth.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, pp. 275-276)

Y. V. SAMOILOV (1870-1925, mineralogist, geochemist, lithologist)

Yakov Vladimirovich Samoilov was a well-known Russian and Soviet minerologist. He studied under V. Vernadsky.

I. M. GUBKIN (1871-1939, Geologist)

Ivan Mikhailovich Gubkin was appointed to lead a government commission tasked to study the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly. The commission proved the relation between the anomaly and the nearby iron ore deposits. Gubkin joined the Communist Party in 1921. He was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1929, and served as its vice-president from 1936 to 1939. Gubkin’s book “The Study of Oil” (1932) developed theory on the origins of oil and the conditions necessary for the formation of oil deposits, and laid out the principles of oil geology. He led the studies of the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly from 1920 to 1925, which eventual led to the discovery of huge iron deposits. Gubkin was the editor of the journal Problems of Soviet Geology. During the first and second Five-Year Plans, he was chairman of the “Production Committee” of the Academy of Sciences (1930–1936). In 1936 he became Vice President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

He was awarded the Lenin Prize (1931), Order of Lenin (1937), Order of the Red Banner (1939).

A. D. ARKHANGELSKY (1879-1940, Geologist)

Andrey Dmitriyevich Arkhangelsky was a professor at Moscow State University, corresponding Member of the Division of Physical-Mathematical Sciences since 1925, and Academician of the Division of Physical-Mathematical Sciences since 1929. He won the Lenin Prize in 1928.

A. F. FERSMAN (1883-1945, Geologist)

Alexander Evgenʹevich Fersman. Prominent Soviet Russian mineralogist, and together with his teacher V. Vernadsky founded modern geochemistry in the USSR. He was a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1919–1945).

He was awarded the Lenin Prize (1929), Stalin Prize (1942), Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London (1943), and Order of the Red Banner of Labour. His name was given to the Fersman Mineralogical Museum, the minerals fersmite and fersmanite, a crater on the Moon, the research vessel RV Geolog Fersman, and streets in multiple Russian cities, including Moscow, Monchegorsk, and Apatity. Since 1946, the Soviet, and then Russian Academy of Sciences was giving the Fersman Award for outstanding research in geochemistry and mineralogy.

Russia’s treasure of diamonds and precious stones
Драгоценные и цветные камни России том 1 [“Precious stones of Russia vol. 1”]
Драгоценные и цветные камни России том 2 [“Precious stones of Russia vol. 2”]
Самоцветы России том 1 [“Gems of Russia vol. 1”]

M. M. PRIGOROVSKY (1881-1949, Geologist)

Mikhail Mikhailovich Prigorovsky headed the coal section of the Main Geological Directorate under the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council. He conducted research and presented scientific papers, for example at the 17th International Geological Congress in Moscow in July 1937.

D. S. BELYANKIN (1876-1953, Geologist)

Dmitry Stepanovich Belyankin was director of the Institute of Geological Sciences (1945-1947), director of the Mineralogical Museum (1947-1952) and the Kola Base of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1948-1952). Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1943), member of the London Geological Society (1946). He was the author of hundreds of scientific papers and collaborated with F. Y. Levinson-Lessing.

Belyankin received two Orders of Lenin (1945 and 1946), the Wollaston Medal (1946), the Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1951) and the A. P. Karpinsky gold medal (1949).

V. A. OBRUCHEV (1863-1956, Geologist)

Vladimir Afanasyevich Obruchev was Professor of the Tomsk Engineering Institute (1919–1921), Professor of the Taurida University in Simferopol (1918–1919), Professor of the Moscow Mining Academy (1921–1929); Member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1929); Chairman of the Committee on Permafrost Studies (since 1930); Director of the Institute of Permafrost Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (since 1939); Secretary of the Department of Geological and Geographical Sciences of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1942–1946); Honorary president of the Soviet Geographical Society (since 1948).

He was awarded The Przhevalsky Prize, Two Chikhachov Prizes from the French Academy of Sciences (1898 and 1925), The Constantine Medal of the Russian Geographical Society (1900), The first ever Karpinsky Gold Medal (1947), The Lenin Prize (1926), Two Stalin Prizes (1941, 1950), Five Orders of Lenin Order of the Red Banner of Labour, and numerous medals. Hero of Socialist Labor (1945).

He discovered many new minerals, wrote numerous books on science and also entertaining science-fiction.

Fundamentals Of Geology by V. Obruchev

D. I. SHCHERBAKOV (1893-1966, Geochemist)

Dmitry Ivanovich Shcherbakov was a Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences (1936), Professor (1946), Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1953). He was a long time friend and colleague of A. Fersman.

GEOLOGY IN THE U.S.S.R. by G. W. Tyrrell


D. I. MENDELEEV (1834-1907) (Chemist)

Dmitry Mendeleev lived before the Soviet Union, but in Soviet times he was lifted to legendary status and was recognized as the greatest Russian chemist of all time. Truly it wouldn’t be far-fetched to call Mendeleev the greatest chemist in world history. He is most well known for formulating the Periodic Law in chemistry, and creating the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, which is still used everywhere.

His discoveries gave additional proof of the correctness of the materialist conception and gave a shattering blow to metaphysics, as they demonstrated the unity of the material world. There are no absolutely separate, isolated and different elements, but all chemical elements consist of the same basic matter particles, only organized in different ways. Mendeleev’s discoveries provide strong proof of the law of transformation of quantity into quality, as adding or subtracting a given amount of atomic particles will give rise a to qualitatively different chemical element.

“Mendeleyev proved that various gaps occur in the series of related elements arranged according to atomic weights indicating that here new elements remain to be discovered. He described in advance the general chemical properties of one of these unknown elements, which he termed eka-aluminium, because it follows after aluminium in the series beginning with the latter, and he predicted its approximate specific and atomic weight as well as its atomic volume. A few years later, Lecoq de Boisbaudran actually discovered this element, and Mendeleyev’s predictions fitted with only very slight discrepancies. Eka-aluminium was realised in gallium… By means of the – unconscious – application of Hegel’s law of the transformation of quantity into quality, Mendeleyev achieved a scientific feat which it is not too bold to put on a par with that of Leverrier in calculating the orbit of the still unknown planet Neptune.” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

Despite being the greatest in his field Mendeleev was never elected to the Academy of Sciences in the Russian Empire, because the scientific establishment was dominated by elitist reactionaries. His merit was not sufficiently recognized by the Tsarist government. The Nobel Committee for Chemistry also refused Mendeleev’s nomination for several years in a row, because it was controlled by reactionaries who fought against Mendeleev’s discoveries. As a result he was never awarded the Nobel prize.

In the USSR the “D. I. Mendeleev Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology”, which had previously been named after Tsar Alexander II was renamed in Mendeleev’s honor.

Geochemistry for everyone by A. Fersman has a lot of information about Mendeleev.

A. M. BUTLEROV (1828-1886) (chemist)

Alexander Butlerov invented a materialistic model of chemistry. He argued against the agnosticism and mechanism of Kekulé’s theories. Butlerov argued that chemical formulas express the real structure of bonds between atoms, thus he opposed agnosticism. He argued that chemical bonds are not merely linked, but also interact reciprocally, thus he opposed mechanistic metaphysics. (see also “Criticism by modern materialist chemists of the idealistic theory of resonance-mesomerism” by B. M. Kedrov)

Butlerov’s work was continued by V. V. Markovnikov (1838-1904) and Soviet chemists used their work as a basis.

Important Soviet chemists include Alexander Nesmeyanov (chemist), Nikolay Dimitrievich Zelinsky (chemist), Alexander Vinogradov (geochemist).

L. A. CHUGAEV (1873-1922, chemist, bioghemist)

Lev Aleksandrovich Chugaev was a prominent early Soviet chemist. He was awarded a posthumous Lenin Prize in 1927

V. G. KHLOPIN (1890-1950, radiochemist)

Vitaly Grigorievich Khlopin was an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1939), Hero of Socialist Labour (1949), and director of the Radium Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1939-1950). One of the founders of Soviet radiochemistry and radium industry and one of the founders of the Radium Institute and leading participants in the atomic project, founder of the school of Soviet radiochemists.

I. Y. BASHILOV (1892-1953, chemical technologist, metallurgist)

Ivan Yakovlevich Bashilov was sentenced to five years in prison for counter-revolutionary activities in 1938 but after serving his term he became a distinguished scientist. He was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honor (1945), medal “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.” (1946), Stalin Prize of the second degree (1948) for the development and implementation of new methods of purification of valuable metals (together with N. D. Kuzhel and others).

N. D. KUZHEL (1906-1979, metallurgical engineer)

Nikolai Dmitrievich Kuzhel. After graduating from the Moscow Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals and Gold, he completed postgraduate studies at metallurgical plants in Norway. After returning to the USSR, he worked as the head of the Pilot Plant at the Mednogorsk Copper and Sulfur Combine, then at the Severonikel plant in Monchegorsk, and since 1941 at the Norilsk Combine. From May 1945 to 1955 – head of the Krasnoyarsk non-ferrous metal plant. He proposed a pyrometallurgical method for enrichment of raw materials with a low content of precious metals. During this period, the first platinum ingots were obtained, and the extraction of ruthenium began; mastered the method of melting palladium in a vacuum induction furnace and organized its production in ingots; a section for electric arc furnaces and a fractional electrolysis shop were created; the method of electrochemical production of rhodium was introduced.

He was awarded the Stalin Prize of the second degree (1948) for the development and implementation of new methods for the purification of valuable metals (together with I. Y. Bashilov and others)


A. I. Kitaigorodsky (physicist)
Grigory Aleksandrovich Gamburtsev (geophysicist, seismologist)

A. G. STOLETOV (1839-1896, physicist)

Soviet Stamp of A. G. Stoletov from 1951

Alexander Grigorievich Stoletov was a leading pre-revolutionary physicist. He taught A. K. Timiryazev, N. P. Kasterin and many other Soviet physicists. Stoletov made numerous discoveries such as the first law of the photoelectric effect. He founded the physical laboratory of Moscow University. The Tsarist Regime did not provide sufficient institutional possibilities for scientific work, so outside of his university activity Stoletov devoted much time to the Society of Lovers of Natural Science which united both academics and hobbyists. The Society was monitored by the tsarist regime, but was a private Society outside official academia.

Stoletov was recommended by other scientists as a member of the Scientific Academy, but the president of the Academy Grand Duke Konstantin, placed in control of science by the tsarist government, prevented Stoletov from being accepted into the Academy. His colleagues carried out demonstrations against this decision.

P. N. LEBEDEV (1866-1912, physicist)

Pyotr Lebedev is one of the greatest Russian physicists of all time and was highly valued in the USSR, where his work was continued. Among his discoveries is that was the first to measure the pressure of light on solid bodies, and his discoveries related to inertia of energy preceded similar discoveries of Einstein. In 1934 the major physics research institution “Lebedev Physical Institute” was named after him.

N. A. UMOV (1846-1915, physicist, mathematician)

Nikolay Alekseevich Umov was a materialist researcher who made great discoveries such as the Umov-Poynting vector and Umov effect. He was a collaborator of P. N. Lebedev.

“Nikolai Umov, the physicist… trained the students to have clear materialist ideas…” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 74)

N. P. KASTERIN (1869-1947, physicist)

Nikolai Petrovich Kasterin was a Soviet physicist, colleague of A. K. Timiryazev and student of A. G. Stoletov. He published papers in support of the Michelson Experiment and objected to idealistic interpretations of Relativity Physics.

D. S. ROZHDESTVENSKY (1876-1940, physicist, pioneer of Soviet optics)

Dmitry Sergeevich Rozhdestvensky was a significant physicist, the founder and first director (1918-1932) of the State Optical Institute (GOI), one of the organizers of the optical industry in the USSR, Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929).

L. I. MANDELSTAM (1879-1944, physicist)

Leonid Isaakovich Mandelstam was an important Soviet physicist, one of the founders of the Russian scientific school of radiophysics; Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929). He was awarded the V. I. Lenin Prize (1931), the D. I. Mendeleev Prize (1936), the Stalin Prize of the first degree (1942). For outstanding services in the field of science and the training of scientific personnel, L. I. Mandelstam was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1940) and the highest order in the USSR, the Order of Lenin (1944).

S. I. VAVILOV (1891-1951, physicist)

Sergey Vavilov was a leading Soviet physicist and founder of the Soviet school of physical optics. In 1934 together with Pavel Cherenkov he discovered the Vavilov-Cherenkov effect for which Cherenkov also received a Nobel prize.

Sergey Vavilov was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1932, Head of the Lebedev Institute of Physics (since 1934), a chief editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia since 1948, a member of the Supreme Soviet from 1946 and a recipient of four Stalin Prizes (1943, 1946, 1951, 1952). He wrote on the lives and works of great thinkers, such as Lucretius, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Lomonosov, Michael Faraday, and Pyotr Lebedev, among others.

In 1945 Sergei Vavilov became the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, replacing the respected botanist V. L. Komarov who had just passed away.

Sergei Vavilov is not to be confused with his brother N. I. Vavilov, a eugenicist pseudo-scientist who was sentenced to prison for sabotage and espionage.

A. K. TIMIRYAZEV (1880-1955, physicist)

Arkady Klimentievich Timiryazev was a prominent communist physicist and son of the legendary biologist K. A. Timiryazev (see the section on biology). He was a firm critic of all kinds of idealism and servility towards the West. Arkady Timiryazev is known for strongly objecting to idealist interpretations of Relativity Physics.

In the 1920s Arkady Timiryazev made anti-dialectical mistakes and supported the so-called “mechanists” in the philosophical debates. Many of the mechanists claimed to actually support dialectics but they did not truly understand it. The debates culminated in “mechanism” being defeated by the “dialectical” school headed by Deborin, and the Deborin school being criticized for “menshevizing idealism”, scholasticism (being out of touch with real life practical work) and defeated by the Marxist-Leninist philosophers headed by M. B. Mitin.

A. F. IOFFE (1880-1960, physicist)

Abram Fedorovich Ioffe was a prominent Soviet physicist. He received the award Honored Worker of Science of the RSFSR (1933) and the Stalin Prize (1942), was an expert in electromagnetism and solid state physics, and was active in establishing physics institutions. He was correctly criticized for servility towards the west (or lacking vigilance in the struggle against western imperialism) after WWII. Physicists such as Arkady Timiryazev, criticized Ioffe for alleged idealism (whether the charge is accurate is hard to say) but Ioffe remained an important figure in Soviet physics.

L. K. RAMZIN (1887–1948, thermal engineer)

Leonid Konstantinovich Ramzin was a Soviet thermal engineer, and the inventor of a type of flow-through boiler known as the straight-flow boiler, or Ramzin boiler.

In 1930 Ramzin was put on trial as an ideological leader of the anti-Soviet group known as The Industrial Party. Ramzin deeply regretted his actions and fully admitted his guilt, explaining that the Industrial Party was supported by a Russian emigre capitalist organization called the Russian Trade and Industrial Committee. This group worked together with British intelligence services, and supported a French-British plan of a new foreign invasion of the USSR led by escaped White Generals. Ramzin explained that engineers such as himself had become an out-of-touch privileged group, and when socialist construction was launched in 1928, they were firmly against it. This was facilitated by the fact that ideological and class struggle had become extremely fierce and society was polarized, the privileged engineers felt isolated from regular workers, who distrusted the engineers. Thus, the engineers were drawn into the plot of the White Guards and imperialists, who used them as their pawns. At the trial, Ramzin and several others were sentenced to death, but the sentence was reduced to 10 years in prison. (See The Industrial Party Affair and Wreckers on Trial)

Ramzin and his colleagues wanted to repair the damage they had caused the USSR, and wanted to do what ever they could in order to help society and become honest citizens. In prison they were given the opportunity to continue scientific research. They developed the ground-breaking new boiler and in 1936 they were amnestied. They were rewarded for their valuable productive work and it was considered they had become fully rehabilitated.

In 1943 Ramzin received a first degree Stalin Prize for his boiler design, and for continued successes in scientific work the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1946 and the Order of Lenin in 1948.

Y. I. FRENKEL (1894-1952, physicist)

Yakov Frenkel made very significant discoveries in condensed matter physics, superconductivity and kinetic theory of liquids.

Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929), doctor of physical and mathematical sciences (1934), received Stalin prize first degree for the monograph «Kinetic Theory of Liquids» (1947).

Frenkel was criticized in 1947 in Literaturnaya Gazeta for servility towards the West.

Kinetic Theory Of Liquids by Y. Frenkel

P. L. KAPITSA (1894-1984, physicist)

Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa was a significant Soviet physicist, particularly in the field of low-temperature physics. He was an old school bourgeois scientist from the tsarist era and was often criticized for ideological mistakes and not having any understanding of politics. Despite this, he was given every assistance in his scientific work, made scientific contributions and served his country and was appreciated as a result. He is by far the most skilled bourgeois-physicist in the USSR, and remained a rightist all his life. He collaborated with the Soviet government, wanted to help his country, and understood that the USSR had massively helped science. However, his total ignorance on philosophy and politics got him into fights very often.

“Not a single one of these professors, who are capable of making very valuable contributions in the special fields of chemistry, history or physics, can be trusted one iota when it comes to philosophy… The task of Marxists… is to be able to master and refashion the achievements of these [bourgeois scientists]… and to be able to lop off their reactionary tendency, to pursue our own line and to combat the whole line of the forces and classes hostile to us.” (Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism)

Kapitsa was given the following awards:
Hero of Socialist Labour (1945)
Stalin Prize, 1 degree (1941)
Stalin Prize, 1 degree (1943)
Order of Lenin (1943)
Order of Lenin (1944)
Order of Lenin (1945)
Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1954)
He was also given a Nobel Prize in Physics (1978) and various medals.

Kapitsa signed the notorious anti-Michurinist “Letter of the 300” and together with Tamm is definitely among the few truly skilled scientists to have signed it. But given Kapitsa’s rightist views and his total ignorance of philosophy, we shouldn’t have expected anything else from him. Kapitsa had no expertise in biology, but predictably this did not prevent him from intervening in biology and signing the letter.

P. A. CHERENKOV (physicist)

Pavel Cherenkov was a Nobel prize winning Soviet physicist. Out of his collaborators Ilya Mikhailovich Frank and Igor Tamm also received a Nobel prize. Cherenkov received a Stalin prize in 1946 and 1952.

I. M FRANK (nuclear physicist)

Ilya Mikhailovich Frank received a Nobel prize together with P. A. Cherenkov and Igor Tamm. He received a Stalin prize in 1946 and 1953. He led research into nuclear power. The USSR became the first country to create a nuclear power plant in 1954.

I. Y. TAMM (nuclear physicist)

Igor Tamm received a Nobel prize together with P. A. Cherenkov and Ilya Frank. He received a Stalin prize in 1954. Tamm was a leading researcher in the Soviet nuclear bomb project.

Despite being a very skilled physicist, Tamm was too ignorant of philosophy of science, and of Marxism-Leninism. In the period of ideological confusion and serious struggle by mendelist-pseudo scientists and right-deviationists against Michurinism, Tamm was fooled by colleagues into signing the notorious so-called “Letter of the 300”. He is perhaps the most skilled scientist to have signed the letter, which is a definite black mark of disgrace on his career.

A. A. MAKSIMOV (philosopher of science, physicist, mathematician)

Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1943). Member of the CPSU since 1918.

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Maksimov graduated from the physics and mathematics department of the University of Kazan in 1916. In 1922 he began to teach philosophy. Since 1929 he was a professor at the Institute of the Red Professors, Moscow State University, and the Communist Academy. From 1944 to 1949, Maksimov was a member of the philosophy department at Moscow State University. His major work has focused on problems of the history of science and philosophical issues of the natural sciences. Maksimov edited translations of the works of G. Hegel, E. Haeckel, R. Mayer, and M. Faraday. He was awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.

D. D. IVANENKO (nuclear physicist)

Dmitri Ivanenko was awarded the Stalin prize in 1950 for his work.

A. A. SOKOLOV (nuclear physicist)

A. A. Sokolov was awarded the Stalin prize in 1950 for his work.

I. V. KURCHATOV (1903-1960, physicist)

Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov is known as the “father of the Soviet nuclear bomb”. In the late 1950s, Kurchatov advocated against nuclear weapons tests. The Soviet Union advocated the banning of nuclear weapons, but since the Western imperialists did not agree, the Soviet Union had to develop its own nuclear weapon. The first atomic reactor in Europe (1946) and the first nuclear power plant in the world (1954) were created under his leadership. He became a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1943.

He was given following awards:
Three times Hero of Socialist Labor (1949, 1951, 1954)
Five Orders of Lenin
Two Orders of the Red Banner
Medals: “For Victory over Germany”, “For the defense of Sevastopol”
Stalin Prizes (1942, 1949, 1951, 1954)
The Lenin Prize (1957)

M. A. MARKOV (1908-1994, physicist)

Moisey Alexandrovich Markov was a Soviet physicist-theorist who mostly worked in the area of quantum mechanics, nuclear physics and particle physics. He is not a particularly important Soviet physicists, but is known mainly for having proposed the idea of underwater neutrino telescopes in 1960.

Markov graduated from the Faculty of Physics of Moscow University in 1930. He worked at the Institute of Red Professors (1931-1933) and the Faculty of Physics of the Moscow State University (1933-1934). Since 1934 he worked for the Lebedev Physical Institute. In 1956-1962 he was the head of the Neutrino Physics Laboratory of the Institute for Nuclear Research. Markov was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences since 1953.

Despite his communist background, Markov made serious mistakes, was fooled by the Khrushchevite Revisionists and also signed the notorious anti-Michurinist “Letter of the 300” in 1955. Markov naturally had absolutely no grasp of biology, and no expertise on Michurinism. It is unclear why he signed, but it seems some colleagues convinced him. The letter did not seriously try to refute Michurinism on scientific grounds, but instead claimed Michurinism was dictatorial and harassing scientists. If they were fooled into believing this lie, scientists from fields distant from biology could’ve been convinced to sign the letter.

G. N. FLYOROV (1913-1990, nuclear physicist)

Georgy Nikolayevich Flyorov was a Soviet nuclear physicist who is known for his discovery of spontaneous fission and his contribution towards the physics of thermal reactions. He is also known for his letter directed to Joseph Stalin, during WWII urging the development of the Soviet Atomic Bomb.

“In 1939 it was discovered that when uranium, the heaviest chemical element, was acted upon by neutrons of low energy, the atoms of uranium suffered a new, formerly unknown, type of disintegration in which the nucleus of the atom split up into two approximately equal halves. These halves are themselves unstable varieties of the atomic nuclei of familiar chemical elements found in the middle of Mendeleyev’s Periodic fable. One year later, in 1940, K. Petrzhak and G. Flerov, young Soviet physicists, discovered that this new type of disintegration or new type of radioactivity of uranium, also occurred in nature, but that it was encountered much more rarely than the usual disintegration of uranium.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, p. 78

Flyorov was awarded the following awards: Hero of Socialist Labour (1949) Order of Lenin (1949), Stalin Prize, twice (1946, 1949), Honorary Citizen of Dubna. The element flerovium (atomic number 114) is named after him.

In the period of ideological confusion and serious struggle by mendelist-pseudo scientists and right-deviationists against Michurinism, Flyorov was fooled by colleagues into signing the notorious so-called “Letter of the 300”.

K. A. PETRZHAK (1907-1998, nuclear physicist)

Konstantin Antonovich Petrzhak was a Soviet physicist who together with G. Flerov discovered spontaneous fission. Petrzhak also contributed to the Soviet atomic bomb.

He was awarded the Stalin prize 2nd degree (jointly with Georgy Flyorov for discovery of spontaneous fission) in 1946, Council of Ministers Prize in 1950, Stalin Prize (for work on the soviet atomic project) in 1953 and Order of the Red Banner of Labour (for work on the soviet atomic project) in 1953.

N. S. AKULOV (physicist)

Akulov Nikolai Sergeevich. A Stalin prize winning specialist in ferromagnetism.

A. S. PREDVODITELEV (1891-1973)

Aleksandr Savvich Predvoditelev was a Soviet physicist, Corresponding member of the Academy of sciences of the USSR since 1939. He graduated from Moscow University in 1915 and was a professor there from 1935. From 1939 he was also head of a laboratory of the Institute of Power Engineering of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

“Predvoditelev’s major works were on molecular physics, hydrodynamics, and thermal physics. He studied the processes of combustion, the distribution of waves in liquid and gaseous mediums, and the physical properties of liquids. He was engaged in the development of the theory of heterogeneous combustion.” (Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979))

Predvoditelev collaborated on carbon combustion research and received a Stalin Prize in 1950 for his monograph The Combustion of Carbon published in 1949.

A. A. VLASOV (1908-1975, theoretical physicist)

Anatoly Aleksandrovich Vlasov was a Soviet, theoretical physicist prominent in the fields of statistical mechanics, kinetics, and especially in plasma physics. Igor Tamm was his doctoral advisor.


A. S. POPOV (1859-1906, physicists, electrical engineer, inventor)

Alexander Stepanovich Popov lived in pre-revolutionary Russia, where his work received no support from the government. However, his work was continued to great effect by Soviet scientists. Popov is known as one of the inventors of a radio-telephone device, independently and contemporaneously with the Italian G. Marconi. In the USSR May 7 was made a holiday “Communications Workers’ Day” or colloquially ‘Radio Day’ in Popov’s honor.

Alexander Popov (1949) A Soviet Film about Popov

American western-centric and anti-communist propaganda ridiculed the notion that a Russian could have invented the radio transmitter or telephone. However, the first functional electromagnetic telegraph was also invented by Russian Pavel Schilling.

A. A. PETROVSKY (1873-1942, radio engineer, physicist)

Alexey Alekseevich Petrovsky was a Soviet scientist in the field of radio engineering, geophysics, electrophysical methods of geological exploration. He was one of the founders of Soviet radio engineering, together with his student I. G. Freiman. Petrovsky was the student and colleague of inventor A. S. Popov. Petrovsky developed the theory and methodology of electrical prospecting. State Councillor, the first professor of radio engineering and the author of the first theoretical guide to radio engineering in Russia. Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR.

Petrovsky was a military officer in the Russian Empire. After the October Revolution Petrovsky moved to a teaching position in the United Naval Forces Classes (1918-1922), and also lectured at the Institute of Higher Commercial Knowledge (until 1930). In 1919 he headed the Petrograd (later Leningrad) branch of the Russian Society of Radio Engineers. In the summer of 1921, he took part in the experimental work that had begun in the Baltic Sea on the organization of radio communication between coastal stations and submarines in a submerged position.

On the initiative of Petrovsky and engineer I. G. Freiman, in November 1922, the first radio amateur circle in the USSR was organized in Petrograd, and in 1923 a radio section was organized at the Electrotechnical Institute.

From 1923 to 1925, he taught electrical engineering at the Higher Military Electrotechnical School of the Commanders of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army (RKKA) and the Military Engineering Academy. In April 1925, on the pages of the monthly magazine “Friend of Radio” Petrovsky, wrote an article on the 30th anniversary of the invention of the radio by A. Popov, and expressed the prophetic words: “May 7 will turn into a real holiday for radio operators!” Since 1945, the Radio Day holiday has been celebrated annually.

In 1924-1930 he was the head of a department at the Institute of Applied Geophysics ( Institute of Applied Geophysics named after Professor V. I. Bauman). He was engaged in the development of electrical methods for the exploration of mineral deposits. In 1928-1938 he taught at the Leningrad Mining Institute , and in 1934 he became the first head of the new department of geophysical methods of exploration, which trained geophysical engineers.

In 1932 he was appointed deputy director of the Geophysical Institute of the Ural branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences (UFAN). In 1935 he defended his thesis for the degree of Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and was awarded the title of professor.

In the position of deputy director, and then head of department in UFAN, he continued to work until 1942. In 1941 he was awarded the title ” Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR”. Over the entire period of his activity, he wrote more than 200 scientific papers on radio engineering, telecommunications, electrical prospecting for minerals and the history of radio.

A. A. CHERNYSHEV (1882-1940, electrical engineer, scientist)

Alexander Alekseevich Chernyshev was a soviet scientist, one of the inventors of the radar. He became a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1929 and full member in 1932. He was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1930.

I. G. FREIMAN (1890-1929, radio engineer and scientist)

Imant Georgievich Freiman together with A. A. Petrovsky was one of the founders of Soviet radio engineering and builder of powerful radio stations. He introduced the terms “radio engineering” and ” radio broadcasting ” into circulation. He designed and built a radio transmitter for the world’s first radio probe, was the first chairman of the communications and observation section of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Red Naval Forces. Freiman was a teacher, dean of the electro-physics faculty, head and professor of the country’s first radio engineering department at the Electrotechnical Institute and head of the radio communication department of the Naval Academy in Petrograd.

In 1918 he took an active part in the creation of the “Russian Society of Radio Engineers” (RORI) in Petrograd, thanks to which the Nizhny Novgorod radio laboratory was formed and a special magazine “Telephony and Telegraphy without Wires” began to be published. In March 1919 he joined the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army. In May 1919, he was appointed as a radio receiver in the Mine Department of the Main Directorate of Shipbuilding, and in October 1921 he became a senior radio receiver. At the same time he worked on a thesis on the topic: “On the laws of the similarity of radio networks” and taught a course in radio engineering at ETI, was elected secretary of the publishing committee of the institute.

In 1919 he filed an application for the invention of a device for multiple telephony using cathode electron-beam switches, which subsequently outstripped the practical development of multichannel communication. In 1921 he defended his master’s thesis and was approved as a professor at ETI. In the same year he founded the first electrovacuum laborary together with professor of physics M. M. Glagolev. In 1922-1925 he worked as the dean of the electrophysical faculty of ETI. From 1922 to 1929 he was a member of the Radio Technical Council of the Trust of Low Current Plants and the Central Radio Laboratory, scientific consultant of the Scientific Test Station of the People’s Commissariat of Posts and Telegraphs (in 1922-1928).

In September 1921, he made a report at the first All-Russian Congress of Amateurs of World Studies, in which he proposed to develop radio amateurism on a national scale. On the initiative of A. A. Petrovsky and Freiman, in November 1922, the first radio amateur circle was organized in Petrograd, and in 1923 a radio section was organized at ETI. Handbooks for radio amateurs were published under the editorship of Freiman.

In 1922, he became the organizer of the Department of Radio Communication at the Naval Academy and until 1929 was its head, at the same time during these years he taught a course in radio engineering at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Military Engineering Academy , continued lecturing at the Second Polytechnic Institute. In the summer of 1923, he organized an internship for his students in Sevastopol. During the practice, the students of the Naval Academy, among others N. P. Suvorov and A. N. Grinenko-Ivanov established underwater communications on the submarines of the Black Sea Fleet.

He was appointed the first chairman of the communications and observation section of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Naval Forces of the Red Army in 1924-1927. He was the initiator and leader of the development of the first radio equipment of the fleet “Blockade-I”, on the basis of which the next two generations of naval radio systems were later created.

In 1924 he became the chairman of the publishing committee of ETI, in the same year his fundamental work “Course of radio engineering” was published (again in 1928), in a review of this book, the future academician Professor A. A. Chernyshev wrote: that this book was the world’s first textbook of radio engineering as an engineering science”. From 1925 to 1926 he worked as deputy director of ETI for educational work.

In 1928 I. Freiman developed and created a radio transmitter for the world’s first radio probe, which was launched after the death of a radio engineer.

V. N. KESSENIKH (1903-1970, radio physicist)

Vladimir Nikolaevich Kessenikh was active in developing radio technology and in physics research. He solved many problems related to communication technology, for example:

“in 1932, he found a solution to the problem of excitation of electromagnetic waves in a wire, which marked the beginning of a series of studies on the concentrated excitation of electromagnetic fields in the theory of antennas and transmission lines. He carried out fundamental research on the electrodynamics of radiating systems. He was the first to introduce the analytical task of a lumped source into antenna problems and found their correct solution. He received the formula for the input impedance of a thin antenna, which was included in textbooks and reference books under the name “Kessenich’s formula”. He laid the theoretical foundations for the study and creation of broadband antenna systems. Kessenich conducted the first computational and analytical study of the detection of cracks in the metal using eddy currents; in the laboratory of the Siberian Institute of Physics and Technology, a number of experimental flaw detection hand trucks were developed for checking railway rails.” (Wikipedia)

In the Great Patriotic War he received the Order of the Red Star in 1942.


N. A. TELESHOV (1828-1895, aviation engineer)

Nikolai Afanasievich Teleshov was a Russian engineer and designer of one of the first Jet Aircraft in the world. He was another pre-revolutionary inventor held in high regard in the USSR.

K. TSIOLKOVSKY (physicist, aeronautics and rocketry theorist)

Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) is the grandfather of Soviet rocketry and aeronautics and one of the inventors of rocketry and the airplane. He began his work during the Tsarist regime but continued it with government support in the Soviet Union.

“The capitalist system was the grave of popular talent. In those times only a few individuals climbed to any height in art and science… Another genius was the grandfather of Russian aviation, K. Tsiolkovsky. He designed an airplane thirteen years before the first airplane rose into the sky. He invented the metal dirigible airship several years before the first dirigible was built in Germany. But in tsarist Russia the value of these inventions was not appreciated. Only in the Land of Soviets were Tsiolkovsky’s discoveries put to use.” (A Short History of the USSR, ed. A. V. Shestakov, p. 242)

His work was the inspiration for the leaders of the Soviet space program Sergei Korolev and Valentin Glushko.

“Haven’t Jules Verne’s fantasies, which still fascinate us, been transformed into reality of today ! We find an even greater scope of fantastic thought in our remarkable Russian scientist K. Tsiolkovsky and though only some thirty years have elapsed since his daring predictions, much of what he wrote then has already come true. We must, therefore, never fear scientific fantasy nor take it as something already existing; we must fight for it because fantasy is one of the methods of scientific work. It was not without reason that Lenin said that fantasy was a quality of the. highest value” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, p. 386)


Soviet astronomy defended the theory of cosmic evolution, that planets, stars and galaxies were not supernaturally created in their current form but evolved from other forms and such evolution is still going on. Soviet astronomy defended the position that life is not unique to planet Earth but instead any planet with suitable conditions can produce life, and the Earth is not the only such planet. Important Soviet astronomers include:

Victor Ambartsumyan (astrophysicist)
Vasiliy Grigorievich Fesenkov (astrophysicist)
Georgi Shain (astronomer)
Boris Kukarkin (astronomer)
Gavriil Adrianovich Tikhov (astrobiologist, “the father of astrobotany”)
Norair Sisakyan (biochemist, one of the founders of astrobiology)

OTTO SCHMIDT (1891-1956, mathematician, astronomer, geophysicist, polar explorer)

Otto Schmidt was a Soviet scientist and polar explorer. Information about his polar expeditions and career is in the section “EXPLORERS” while this section only deals with astronomy.

The first scientific hypothesis about the origin of our galaxy was created by Kant and Laplace. Later bourgeois scientists attempted to develop this hypothesis. Schmidt and other Soviet scientists pointed out the errors of these bourgeois scientists and made important developments to the hypothesis. However, Schmidt’s theories still contain a number of shortcomings which were criticized at the Soviet First Conference On Cosmogony. Schmidt contributed greatly to a scientific theory of cosmogony.

“The first scientific cosmogonic hypothesis based on facts established by science was proposed in the eighteenth century by Kant and Laplace. These scientists believed the Sun and all the planets revolving around it to have formed by condensation of one primary incandescent nebula which rotated even before the origin of the Sun…

The Kant-Laplace hypothesis was long thought appropriately to explain the formation of the Earth, but the rapid development of astronomy, geophysics and geology in the nineteenth century made it possible to reveal several errors in this hypothesis, and new explanations appeared. For example, the scientist Chamberlain thought that the little Earth, formed in the manner proposed by Kant and Laplace, gradually grew larger by the addition of meteorites… Jeans believed the Solar System to have formed as a result of the passage of another star very close to the Sun… For a number of years this hypothesis was thought very adequate, but was then disproved because the passage of one star so close to another that it may cause the supposed ejections of material is a very rare phenomenon and unlikely to explain the formation of the planets revolving around the Sun. Several serious errors were discovered in this hypothesis chiefly by Soviet scientists.

More than 10 years ago Academician O. Schmidt put forward a new hypothesis of the formation of our Earth and the other planets revolving around the Sun. He assumed that moving in the Galaxy through the dust and gases which form the interstellar matter the Sun attracted part of them and came out surrounded by a cloud of this substance. According to the law of gravity this cloud revolved around the Sun, the particles composing the cloud moving in it in all directions, colliding with each other, sometimes breaking up, but more frequently uniting, the smaller particles joining the larger ones; the planets were thus gradually formed in the cloud. The part of the cloud closer to the Sun was heated more intensely, and the nearest planets Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars are therefore small and consist of dense matter, rock and metal, and little gaseous remains, whereas Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, the more distant planets, are of enormous size and consist of gaseous and volatile substances. The bodies that failed to join the solid inner planets form comets and asteroids.

Schmidt originally thought that the meteorites forming part of the primary cloud had played an important part in the making of the planets; later he relinquished this idea and believed the gas-dust mass to have been the initial material for the creation of the planets.

Schmidt’s hypothesis successfully explains a great deal in the formation of the planets, but it is not devoid of serious short-comings, as was pointed out at the very first conference on problems of cosmogony. The hypothesis considers the formation of the planets of the Solar System, but leaves out the Sun; it offers a good explanation of the origin of the terrestrial type planets, but the large planets with their physical properties do not fit into it. Schmidt did not study the evolution of the Sun or the problem of the origin and evolution of the stars and did not utilize the rich material of modern astrophysics. All this shows that Schmidt’s hypothesis is as yet unable to explain the formation of all the heavenly bodies and is inadequate in its present form.

Most of the Soviet scientists studying problems of astronomy and geophysics believe that the Earth and the other planets of the Solar System were formed not of substance brought from without, but of the gaseous or gas-dust matter existing within the limits of this system.

Schmidt’s and several other hypotheses assume that the Earth and other planets of this type formed of the gas-dust substance were originally cold. Subsequently, the substance was divided according to its specific gravity by means of gravitational differentiation and the globe was stratified into geospheres of different densities as a result of the rise of the lighter particles to the outer shells of the Earth…

The discovery of deep-focus earthquakes originating at a depth of more than 600 kilometres has persuaded some geologists that the outer shell of the Earth consists of solid substance to a depth of at least 800 kilometres. This structure of the earth’s crust conforms to the assumption of the origin of a “cold” Earth from cosmic dust better than to the hypothesis of a fiery-liquid Earth.

According to Schmidt’s hypothesis the originally “cold” Earth had in its composition radioactive elements which by disintegrating served as the source of energy, and the Earth gradually melted, only the outer shell of the Earth — the crust — remaining hard. On the other hand, as A. Vinogradov points out, if we take the meteorites to be fragments of planets (this is now believed firmly established) we must also admit that these planets went through the stage of complete melting. Thus, the Earth, whose internal geospheres have, according to modern assumptions, a structure analogous to that of different types of meteorites, must, as a whole, have gone through the stages of a molten body in which the processes of liquid differentiation, liquation and stratification occurred. In Vinogradov’s opinion the Earth began to cool from the inside and long retained a molten shell.

If we summarize the discussions of Schmidt’s hypothesis at the First Cosmogonic Conference we shall see that the problem of the origin of the Earth and planets, the problem of whether the energy produced by the decay of radioactive elements is alone enough to heat and melt the globe, and the problems of the further differentiation of the Earth’s substances and the process of the Earth’s cooling have as yet been inadequately elaborated and that astronomers, geophysicists and geologists have come to no agreement.” (V. Obruchev, Fundamentals Of Geology, pp. 259-262)

P. F. SHAJN (1894-1956, Astronomer)

Pelageya Fedorovna Shajn, was a Russian astronomer in the Soviet Union, and the first woman credited with the discovery of a minor planet, at the Simeiz Observatory in 1928. Pelageya also discovered numerous variable stars and co-discovered the periodic, Jupiter-family comet 61P/Shajn–Schaldach.

In 1948 she discovered a new minor planet and named it Otto Schmidt after the famous Soviet geologist and explorer.


N. I. LOBACHEVSKY (1792-1856, geometer)

Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is the main inventor of hyperbolic non-euclidian geometry, which is also called Lobachevskian geometry. The Lobachevsky Prize was created in 1927 by the USSR Academy of Sciences.

P. L. CHEBYSHEV (1821-1894, mathematician)

Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev is often called the founding father of Russian mathematics. He was held in high regard in the USSR.

I. V. VINOGRADOV (1891-1983, mathematician)

“Our Soviet mathematician, Academician Vinogradov, found a brilliant solution for Goldbach’s problem, on which the greatest mathematicians all over the world had been working for nearly 200 years.” (A History of the USSR, ed. A. M. Pankratova (1948) vol. 3, p. 380)

Vinogradov developed the so-called ‘Vinogradov method’ in mathematics. He was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941.

“With the help of this method, Vinogradov tackled questions such as the ternary Goldbach problem in 1937 (using Vinogradov’s theorem), and the zero-free region for the Riemann zeta function. His own use of it was inimitable; in terms of later techniques, it is recognised as a prototype of the large sieve method in its application of bilinear forms, and also as an exploitation of combinatorial structure. In some cases his results resisted improvement for decades. He also used this technique on the Dirichlet divisor problem, allowing him to estimate the number of integer points under an arbitrary curve. This was an improvement on the work of Georgy Voronoy. In 1918 Vinogradov proved the Pólya–Vinogradov inequality for character sums.” (wikipedia)

Works of Vinogradov:
The Method Of Trigonometric Sums In The Theory Of Numbers
Proceedings of the International Conference on Number Theory (Moscow, September 14-18, 1971)

V. A. STEKLOV (1864-1926, physicist, mathematician)

Vladimir Andreevich Steklov. Prominent early Soviet mathematician.

D. A. GRAVE (1863-1939, mathematician)

Dmitry Aleksandrovich Grave was an important Soviet mathematician, elected to the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in 1919 and to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1929.


A. P. WALTHER (1817-1889, physiologist) and V. A. BASOV (1812-1879, physiologist)

“In briefly touching upon the development of physiology in Russia, we have to state that among the important achievements of science in the first half of the 19th century were the investigations carried out by Walther and Basov. In 1842, Walther (1817-1889), a pupil of N. Pirogov, showed that a cross-cut of the “sympathetic nerve threads admixed to the sciatic nerve of a frog” (i.e., of the sympathetic nerve fibres) caused a dilation of the vessels of the web. In the same year Basov (1812-1879) elaborated a method of penetrating the stomach of an absolutely healthy animal by applying a stomach fistula and, for the first time in the history of physiology, demonstrated the feasibility of a protracted, chronic experiment. However, Walther and Basov did not appreciate the importance of their discoveries and did not develop them. Claude Bernard was the man who elaborated the theory of innervation of blood vessels. But it was Pavlov who turned the method of investigating physiological processes in normal, healthy animals into an instrument which revolutionized the entire development of physiology.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, p. 20)

I. M. SECHENOV (1829-1905) (Physiologist, Pioneer of psychology, Darwinist)

Ivan Mikhaylovich Sechenov propagated Darwinism and applied it in his work on physiology. Ivan Pavlov referred to him as the “Father of Russian physiology and scientific psychology”.

Eminent biologists… [like] V. M. Sechenov… defended and developed Darwinism with all the passion of true scientists.” (Lysenko, The Situation in the Science of Biology,1948)

The Selected Works of I. M. Sechenov contain a detailed biographical essay by M. Shaternikov about Sechenov’s life and work.

Sechenov, Avtobiograficheskie zapiski

I. P. Pavlov wrote: “Sechenov’s teaching of the reflexes of the brain is, in my opinion, a sublime achievement of Russian science. The application of the reflex principle to explain the activity of the higher nervous centres is a proof that causality can be applied to the study of the highest forms of organic nature. For this reason the name of Sechenov will forever remain dear to the Russian scientific world.” (Quoted in p. XXV Selected Works of Sechenov)

“particularly, the discovery by Sechenov in 1862 of the phenomena of inhibition in the central nervous system, gave rise to the study of the factors which determine the nature of inhibition and its role in reflex activity.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, p. 20)

“The works of Sechenov marked a new stage in Russian physiology. Sechenov was born in 1829 in the former Simbirsk Gubernia. In 1850, after a short period of service in the army as an officer in the engineering corps, he entered the medical faculty of Moscow University. There, under the guidance of Glebov and Orlovsky, he learned the principles of experimental and theoretical physiology. Not only the medical faculty, but the university as a whole, with its intense activity, together with Granovsky’s lectures on history and the ideological atmosphere created by the philosophical works of the revolutionary-democrat A. Herzen, played an outstanding role in forming Sechenov’s world outlook. His materialistic views, which underlay all his creative work, took shape already in his student days at the university.

In 1856, after his graduation, Sechenov went abroad on a scientific mission. There he worked in the laboratories of Ludwig, Helmholtz and Claude Bernard. Upon his return to Russia, he headed the chair of physiology of the Medico-Surgical Academy (later renamed the Military Medical Academy) in Petersburg.

In 1862, Sechenov discovered the phenomenon of inhibition in the central-nervous system, and in 1863, he published his brilliant work Reflexes of the Brain, in which he gave a consistently materialistic interpretation of mental phenomena. This book made him a political suspect in the eyes of the tsarist government, and only the fear of attracting still greater attention to this work compelled the government of Alexander II to give up the idea of taking legal action against Sechenov. Subsequently, Sechenov worked at the Odessa, Petersburg and Moscow universities. He died in Moscow on November 15, 1905.

Sechenov has gone down in the history of science as a great scientist and thinker; he was the first to subject the most intricate domain of nature—the phenomena of consciousness—to a natural-scientific analysis.

Sechenov had many pupils, some of whom became prominent scientists. For example, N. Spiro discovered the so-called reciprocal inhibition in antagonistic centres (the fame of the English researcher Sherrington is due to a large extent to his thorough elaboration of this problem). V. Pashutin (1845-1901), another of Sechenov’s pupils, founded the Russian school of pathology (pathological physiology) and, jointly with A. Likhachov, was the first to work out precise methods of directly measuring the total heat produced in the human organism. The outstanding pharmacologist N. Kravkov was also a pupil of Sechenov, as was the prominent physiologist B. Verigo, who investigated the peculiarities of the action of a.continuous current on the tissues and showed that the taking up and release of oxygen by haemoglobin play an important role in the carriage of carbon dioxide by the blood.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, pp. 21-22)

M. SHATERNIKOV (1870-1939, Physiologist)

Mikhail Nikolaevich Shaternikov was a significant physiologist. He worked in Sechenov’s laboratory. Sechenov was awarded the title of Honored Scientist of the RSFSR in 1935.

“Sechenov’s associates included M. Shaternikov (1870-1939), who studied general metabolism, and A. Samoilov (1867-1930), the prominent investigator of electrical phenomena in living tissues who first advanced the hypothesis of a chemical mechanism governing the transmission of excitation from the nerve to the skeletal muscle and from one neuron to another in the central nervous system.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, pp. 21-22)

N. Y. WEDENSKY (1852-1922, physiologist)

Nikolai Yevgenyevich Wedensky (1852-1922) was one of Sechenov’s pupils at Petersburg University; after Sechenov and Pavlov, he must with all justification be ranked among the leading Russian physiologists. In his remarkable experimental researches, Wedensky, who had participated in the revolutionary movement in his youth, advanced the important concept — of the inner unity of the externally opposite phenomena of excitation and inhibition. A. Ukhtomsky (1876-1942) carried on Wedensky’s researches and profoundly developed his ideas.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, pp. 21-22)

“Among the physiologists who worked in Petersburg beginning with the sixties and seventies of the 19th century were I. Cyon who, together with K. Ludwig, proved the existence in the aortic arch of specialized sensitive formations—receptors stimulated by the rise of arterial blood pressure, F. Ovsyannikov (1827-1906) to whom science owes the study of the vasomotor centre and of a number of researches into the fine structure of the nervous system, and I. Tarkhanov (1846-1908), who is known for his discovery of the skin galvanic reflex.

A prominent place in the development of Russian physiology belongs to Kazan University, where N. Kovalevsky (1842-1891) and his successor, N. Mislavsky (1854-1929) used to work. Kovalevsky discovered that arterial blood pressure rises as a result of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the organism. Mislavsky ascertained the exact location of the respiratory centre in the medulla oblongata and jointly with V. Bekhterev established that the stimulation of the cerebral cortex influences respiration and blood circulation.

Important physiological investigations relating to various branches of physiology were made by Professor V. Danilevsky of Kharkov (1852-1939), V. Chagovets of Kiev, and A. Kulyabko of Tomsk.” (Bykov, Text-book of physiology, 1958, p. 22)

IVAN PAVLOV (physiologist, psychologist)

I. Pavlov was one of the founders of modern psychology, focusing particularly on classical conditioning. His study of physiology was also further developed for disease prevention and other medical purposes by Soviet scientists, for example Alexander Speransky (pathologist), Nikolay Nikolayevich Anichkov (pathologist) and Anatoliy Ivanov-Smolensky (Psychiatrist, pathophysiologist).

Academician Ivan Pavlov (1949) A nice Soviet film about Pavlov’s life and work.

Selected works of Pavlov
Pavlov, Lectures on conditioned reflexes
Pavlov, Psychopathology and Psychiatry
Pavlov And His School on The Theory Of Conditioned Reflexes

There is an article on Pavlov in In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

S. V. KRAVKOV (1893-1951, Founder of Physiologist and Psychologist of Optics)

Sergei Vasilievich Kravkov was a Soviet psychologist and psychophysiologist, Doctor of Biological Sciences (1935), Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (1946), Honored Scientist RSFSR (1947).

K. M. BYKOV (pavlovian psychologist-physiologist)
Bykov was a leading pavlovian psychologist in the USSR together with Anatoliy Ivanov-Smolensky.
Text-book of physiology
The cerebral cortex and the internal organs
Studien über periodische Veränderungen physiologischer Funktionen des Organismus [Studies of periodic changes in the physiological functions of the organism] (in German)

B. M. TEPLOV (psychologist)
Psychology [textbook] (1953)


D. S. SAMOILOVICH (1744-1805, physician, epidemiologist)

Danilo Samoilovich Samoilovich was a Russian military physician and the founder of Russian epidemiology. He made ground-breaking discoveries during his work to contain epidemics of the bubonic plague. He was held in very high regard in the USSR, considered a great scientist and a hero of his people.

During the 1771 Moscow plague outbreak he was helped by famous pediatrician Pyotr Ivanovich Pogoretsky and Kasyan Osipovich Yagelsky in fighting the plague.

“From 1761 to 1770, Samoilovich was a student and physician’s assistant at the St. Petersburg Admiralty Hospital. In 1771 he was a staff physician at the military hospital in Moscow. He received his doctor of medicine degree in 1784. From that year Samoilovich participated in the struggle against plague, and in 1793 he became physician in charge of quarantines in southern Russia. From 1800 he was an inspector for the Black Sea Medical Board. He generalized the experience gained in the struggle to control plague, which he regarded as a special nosologic form. Samoilovich was the first Russian scientist to give a clinical description of plague, and he came to the conclusion that after recovering from the disease, the patient was no longer susceptible to it. He demonstrated the contagiousness of the disease and substantiated the necessity for anti-plague inoculations. Samoilovich developed a congruous system of antiepidemic measures, including reporting each incidence of the disease, isolating the patient, carrying out disinfection, involving the populace in the control of epidemics, and setting up quarantines. Samoilovich was a member of 12 foreign academies of science.” (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979))

Samoilovich was a pioneer ahead of his time. The tsarist regime did not value his work sufficiently and his work had to be rediscovered by other pioneers: “the work on anti-plague inoculations that Danilo Samoilovich had begun, had been discontinued when he died, and was forgotten.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 24)

“Life Triumphs” by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the work of Samoilovich.

P. I. POGORETSKY (1734-1780, pediatrician)

Pyotr Ivanovich Pogoretsky, comrade of D. S. Samoilovich, was one of the founders of pediatrics in Russia. He graduated from the University of Leiden (Kingdom of Holland), became Doctor of Medicine in (1765). He wrote the first Russian manual on childhood diseases, published in Latin in 1768.

N. I. PIROGOV (1810-1881, surgeon)

Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov was a Russian scientist, medical doctor, pedagogue, public figure, and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1847), one of the most widely recognized Russian physicians. He was held in high regard in the USSR. He is considered to be the founder of field surgery, he was the first surgeon to use anaesthesia in a field operation (1847) and one of the first surgeons in Europe to use ether as an anaesthetic. He is credited with invention of various kinds of surgical operations and developing his own technique of using plaster casts to treat fractured bones.

Works by Pirogov

“Pirogov” (1947) a Soviet film about the life of the great surgeon.

G. N. MINKH (1836-1896, pathologist)

Grigory Nikolaevich Minkh carried out important research related to the bubonic plague and other contagious diseases. He did not receive support from the tsarist government and his work was not adequately respected. However he served his people, made an important contribution to science, and was correctly appreciated in the USSR.

“When Grigory Minkh had collected a host of irrefutable facts throwing light on the laws of the spread of epidemics, he prepared for the press a serious work on plague, a handbook scientifically correct and passionately human for all those who would continue his work Unfortunately he was unable to publish his book; he had insufficient money to cover the cost of printing. But after his death, his family stinted themselves for many long years, denying themselves every comfort in order to buy paper and pay for the work of the compositors. Finally they achieved their goal and the brilliant scientist’s book made its appearance and rendered a great service.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 30)

“Life Triumphs” by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the life and work of Minkh.

V. K. VYSOKOVICH (1854-1912, pathologist, bacteriologist, epidemiologist)

Vladimir Konstantinovich Vysokovich was an important epidemiologist, co-worker of I. I. Mechnikov and N. F. Gamaleya.

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the work of Vysokovich.

V. I. RAZUMOVSKY (1857-1935, surgeon, doctor of medicine)

Vasily Ivanovich Razumovsky was a surgeon and scientist, author of about 150 scientific papers. He was awarded the Title of Hero of Labor (1923 ) and Honored Scientist of the RSFSR (1934).

VLADIMIR KHAVKIN (1860-1930, bacteriologist, epidemiologist)

Vladimir Aaronovich Khavkin developed the first effective vaccines against cholera and plague. He studied under E. Mechnikov.

“Upon graduation from Novorossiia University in Odessa in 1884, Khavkin worked at the Odessa Zoological Museum. In 1888 he became assistant professor at the University of Geneva; he held a similar position at the Pasteur Institute in Paris from 1889 to 1893. From 1893 to 1915 he worked in India, serving as a bacteriologist for the government from 1893 to 1904. Khavkin helped organize the Plague Research Laboratory in Bombay, and served as its director from 1896 to 1904. The laboratory, which was reorganized and renamed the Haffkine Institute in 1925, became a center for the study of bubonic plague and cholera in Southeast Asia.

Khavkin’s principal works dealt with cholera and plague. He revealed the infectious nature of cholera and was the first to develop effective vaccines against cholera (1892) and plague (1896). He tested the vaccines on himself to prove their safety. Khavkin was directly involved in the vaccination of the Indian population during the cholera epidemic of 1893–95 and the plague epidemic of 1896–1902. On the 60th anniversary of Khavkin’s anti-plague laboratory, the Indian president R. Prasad remarked that “we in India are greatly indebted to Doctor Khavkin. He helped India rid itself of its principal epidemics—plague and cholera.” (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979))

“Life Triumphs” by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the work of Khavkin.

I. A. DEMINSKY (1864-1912 medical doctor, epidemiologist)

Ippolit Aleksandrovich Deminsky was a brave pioneering bacteriologist. He specialized in combating plague. He traveled to epidemic zones, treated people and researched plague spreading animals. Deminsky supported D. K. Zabolotny’s theory that between outbreaks plague survived among animals. Deminsky came to conflict with the tsarist government, because the government refused to spend adequate funds on medical care and prevention of epidemics. In those years plague was mainly combated and researched by self-sacrificing heroes such as Deminsky, who received no significant support from the government and risked their own lives to help mankind. Deminsky died as a result of contracting pneumonic plague during his work. This was largely because the tsarist government neglected to provide anti-plague medical workers with protective equipment in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner.

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid depiction of the work of Deminsky.


Elena Merkuryevna Krasilnikova was a co-worker of I. A. Deminsky.

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid depiction of the work of Krasilnikova.

V. I. TURCHINOVICH-VYZHNIKEVICH (1865-1904, veterinary scientist, bacteriologist)

Vladislav Ivanovich Turchinovich-Vyzhnikevich was a brave pioneering bacteriologist who specialized in combating plague. He died after having contracted pneumatic plague during his research.

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid depiction of the work of Turchinovich-Vyzhnikevich.

D. K. ZABOLOTNY (1866-1929, bacteriologist, epidemiologist)

Daniil Kirillovich Zabolotny was an important early Soviet epidemiologist. In 1920, he created the world’s first department of epidemiology in Odessa. He became Academician of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1922), Academician of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences (1928), Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1929) and was the President of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1928-1929).

He led expeditions to Asia to fight plague there, to discover its sources, how it reproduced and survived outside human hosts. In 1922 he discovered the zoonoses of the plague, i.e. he discovered that it was transmitted by and survived in various wild animal species, and only occasionally passed to humans, causing an outbreak.

“Zabolotny and other scientists after him put forward the supposition that steppe rodents are the carriers of plague from one epidemic to another. If only the officials in the government offices of the Russian Empire and other countries had listened to a brilliant Russian scientist, subsequent epidemics might have been averted and large numbers of lives saved. But the work had to be done almost single-handed.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 67)

“Sometime in the future when communism is victorious over the whole world, scientists will strive to achieve what is at present a dream: they will study and destroy all the centres of dangerous microbes to be found on our planet. This will not come about all at once. Gradually one disease after another, together with the natural disease-carriers, will vanish for all time even from the memory of mankind. Daniel Zabolotny was one of the initiators of this splendid trend in science. Almost nothing was known of the paths along which plague was spread, before Zabolotny made his investigations.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 56)

He also saw the terrible results of colonialist imperialism and condemned it in his notes:

“Famine is the most terrible scourge affecting this vast country. The English have inundated India with cotton fabrics and in Dacca, the ancient centre of Indian weaving, only 20,000 remain of the original 150,000 inhabitants; the rest either died of famine or fled. In 1741 five million people, being one-third of the population, died of famine in the single Indian province of Bengal. In 1874 there was famine in Bombay, Madras and Hyderabad. Between 1874 and the middle of the nineties more than 20 million Indians died of famine.” (quoted in A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 35)

A socialist student studying with him at the Novorossiya University in Odessa named Makar Saulyak “supplied Zabolotny with thick volumes of Sovremennik [Magazine founded by Pushkin, where Chernyshevsky often published articles] for 1856 and other years, books by Belinsky and Pisarev and research papers by Darwin and Chernyshevsky…” (Ibid., p. 69) These gradually introduced Zabolotny to democratic revolutionary and socialist thinkers, and to materialist philosophy. There were also materialist teachers at the university, who struggled against clericalism and for democracy.

“Only a short time previously Sechenov and Mechnikov had been lecturing there. The university still cherished the traditions of the great Russian natural scientists. Nikolai Umov, the physicist, and Alexander Kovalevsky, the famous embryologist, read lectures there. These professors trained the students to have clear materialist ideas, taught them to seek in the external world for the causes of internal changes, as Sechenov had done when he proved that the external world determines the character of the higher nervous activity of animals and man, as Mechnikov and Pasteur had done when they explained the role of the external world in the origin and spread of diseases.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, pp. 74-75)

Darwin’s theories also became a very important factor in Zabolotny’s life-work. Zabolotny was expelled from the university for revolutionary activities and imprisoned. However, in prison his health became worse and the authorities were afraid his death would cause disturbances, so they released him. After his release “friends of Mechnikov, Bardakh and Gamaleya gave Zabolotny a friendly welcome to the Mechnikov laboratory.” (Ibid. p. 78) where he carried out research. Later he embarked on his many expeditions.

Western reactionary scientists opposed Zabolotny and denied his theory that the plague survives among animals and is transmitted from animals to humans. Instead they insisted that plague is only spread by contact with infected persons or their belongings. Zabolotny also came into fierce conflict with supporters of Malthus who considered epidemics a necessary population control mechanism.

“Life Triumphs” by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the work of Zabolotny.

N. F. GAMALEYA (1859-1949, bacteriologist)

Nikolay Fyodorovich Gamaleya was a pioneer of microbiology and vaccine research, one of the greatest Soviet microbiologists.

After graduating from Odessa’s Novorossiysky University in 1880 and the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy in 1883 he traveled to France in 1886 to work in Louis Pasteur‘s laboratory (Pasteur is the main developer of the germ theory of disease). Gamaleya defended Pasteur’s research against reactionary dogmatists in the scientific community. Pasteur’s opponents sabotaged and delayed his research, ordering him not to treat rabies patients until further tests had been done. Pasteur’s opponents falsely claimed his rabies vaccines were dangerous and caused disease. Gamaleya knew that any delays were lethal and patients were dying all the time, as rabies was considered incurable and practically always fatal. He proved that Pasteur’s opponents were sabotaging vaccine tests intentionally by a campaign of lies and due to their incompetent unhygienic methods. He tested the vaccine on himself and showed it to be safe.

After his return to Russia he joined I. I. Mechnikov in organizing an Odessa bacteriological station for rabies vaccination studies and research on combating cattle plague and cholera, diagnosing sputum for tuberculosis, and preparing anthrax vaccines. He improved upon the work of Pasteur. The Odessa Bacteriological Institute became Russia’s first-ever bacteriological observation station. Despite lack of resources the scientists were able to succeed in figuring out the conditions under which the rabies vaccination was most effective. Gamaleya’s proposal for using killed bacilli in anti-cholera vaccines was later successfully applied on a wide scale as well. Similar stations were soon founded in Kiev (1886), Yekaterinoslav (1897), and Chernigov (1897).

After defending his dissertation in 1892, Gamaleya served as director of the Odessa Bacteriological Institute in 1896-1908. Researching anthrax in 1898, Gamaleya was the discoverer of the bacteria-destroying antibodies known as bacteriolysins.

Gamaleya initiated a public health campaign of exterminating rats to fight the plague in Odessa and southern Russia and pointed to the louse as the carrier of typhus. In 1910-1913, Gamaleya edited the journal Hygiene and Sanitation.

Gamaleya organized the supply and distribution of smallpox vaccines for the Red Army and made strides toward the eventual eradication of smallpox in the USSR.

The author of more than 300 academic publications on bacteriology, Gamaleya was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. He also served as head of the All-Union Society of Microbiologists, Epidemiologists and Infectionists.

Gamaleya received two Lenin Orders, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, the Stalin Prize in 1943 and other awards.

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid description of the work of Gamaleya.

K. I. SKRYABIN (1879-1972, Helminthologist)

Konstantin Ivanovich Skryabin. Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1939, academician of USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, Hero of Socialist Labor (1958), winner of Stalin Prize and Lenin Prize. He was a founder of the helminthology school, and an author of landmark books on helminths in Soviet Union. He was a Head of the Department of the Moscow Veterinary Institute (1920-1925) and (1933-1941), and at the same time Head of Helminthology Division of the Central Tropical Institute (1921-1941).

A. A. BOGOMOLETS (1881-1946, pathophysiologist)

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Bogomolets was a Soviet scientist who mainly researched cancer and aging. His parents were revolutionaries and Aleksandr was born at the infirmary of women’s prison. The opponent during his doctoral defense was I. P. Pavlov, who valued Bogomolets highly. In his early career Bogomolets worked at the so-called “Plague Fort”, a pioneering anti-disease station where legendary Russian and Soviet immunologists spent their early careers. He joyfully greeted the October Revolution and carried out medical and research work for the Red Army.

A. A. Bogomolets is the founder of the Russian and Ukrainian schools of pathophysiology, endocrinology and gerontology. In 1936 he developed the Anti-reticular Cytotoxic Serum, which helped treat certain illnesses and was hoped to prolong life. Bogomolets organized the first ever scientific conference on aging and longevity in Kiev in 1938. He made significant discoveries in cancer treatment and created the doctrine of the interaction between the tumor and the body.

He was awarded the following awards:
-First Degree Stalin Prize (1941) – for the scientific work “Guide to pathological physiology” in three volumes (1935-1937)
-Hero of Socialist Labor (1944) for outstanding achievements in science, for the creation of valuable drugs for the treatment of wounds and bone fractures.
-Two orders of Lenin (1940; 1944)
-Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class (1945)
-Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1944)
-Medal “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945”

V. A. DOGIEL (1882-1955, zoologist, parasitologist, protozoologist)

Valentin Alexandrovich Dogiel (sometimes “Dogel”). Professor at the St. Petersburg (Later Leningrad State University) since 1913, and head of the Leningrad Laboratory of Protozoology at the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1944. In 1923 he founded the Laboratory of Parasitology at the Fisheries Research Institute VNIORKh in Leningrad.

Dogiel contributed significantly in the field of taxonomy of parasites and protozoa in general. He also worked on more general questions of comparative anatomy and zoology. He was appointed a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1939, and a foreign member of the Linnean Society of London in 1944. He was a co-worker of Y. N. Pavlovsky.

He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1945 and the Order of Lenin in 1953.

Y. N. PAVLOVSKY (1884-1965, zoologist, entomologist, parasitologist)

Yevgeny Nikanorovich Pavlovsky was an important parasitologist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939), the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR (1944), honorary member of the Tajik Academy of Sciences (1951), and a lieutenant-general of the Red Army Medical Service in World War II.

In 1908, Yevgeny Pavlovsky graduated from the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy. He became a professor at his alma mater in 1921. In 1933–1944, he worked at the All-union Institute of Experimental Medicine in Leningrad and simultaneously at the Tajik branch of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1937–1951). Yevgeny Pavlovsky held the post of the director of the Zoology Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1942–1962. In 1946, he was appointed head of the Department of Parasitology & Medical Zoology at the Institute of Epidemiology & Microbiology of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences. He was the president of the Soviet Geographical Society in 1952–1964. Under Pavlovsky’s direction, they organized numerous complex expeditions to the Central Asia, Transcaucasus, Crimea, Russian Far East and other regions of the Soviet Union to study endemic parasitic and transmissible diseases (tick-borne relapsing fever, tick-borne encephalitis, Pappataci fever, leishmaniasis etc.).

Yevgeny Pavlovsky introduced the concept of natural nidality of human diseases, defined by the idea that microscale disease foci are determined by the entire ecosystem. This concept laid the foundation for the elaboration of a number of preventive measures and promoted the development of the environmental trend in parasitology (together with the works of parasitologist Valentin Dogiel). Yevgeny Pavlovsky researched host organism as a habitat for parasites (parasitocenosis), numerous matters of regional and landscape parasitology, life cycles of a number of parasites, pathogenesis of helminth infection. Pavlovsky and his fellow scientists researched the fauna of flying blood-sucking insects (gnat) and methods of controlling them and venomous animals and characteristics of their venom.

Pavlovsky’s principal works are dedicated to the matters of parasitology. He authored several textbooks and manuals on parasitology. Pavlovsky was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th convocations. He was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941 and 1950) and the Mechnikov Gold Medal of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1949), and gold medal of the Soviet Geographical Society (1954). Yevgeny Pavlovsky was awarded five Orders of Lenin, four other orders, and numerous medals.

“If the causative organisms of the disease passed only from one human being to another, then having killed the last person in their path in a particular locality, the microbes themselves should then cease to exist. But for millions of years bacteria had been adapting themselves to the changing environmental conditions. The microbes of many most dangerous diseases make the complicated journey not in space, not from one country to another, but on one and the same restricted territory, passing from one species of animal to another. This path of infection, when the virus does not go beyond the bounds of wild nature, can be called its “minor cycle.”

People who have penetrated the depths of the Far Eastern taiga suffered from taiga encephalitis—an inflammation of the brain which is dangerous to life Years of heroic labour were spent before Yevgeny Pavlovsky and other Soviet scientists deciphered the “minor cycle” of the movement of encephalitis, discovered its natural haunts and proved that the tick which lives in the taiga introduces the virus of this disease into the blood when it bites a human being. The infection existed before, but it would now be visible and would pass along the “major cycle” which includes mankind.

During the years of the first five-year plan, when building began on the desert shores of Vakhsh in Central Asia, doctors observed the appearance of a serious disease which was a special variety of Leishmaniasis. Soviet scientists succeeded in establishing that the jackal is one of the links in the movement in nature of the Leishmania.

In this way scientists are investigating the limits of the spread of one or other microbe. In taiga, forests, steppes, deserts, mountains, swamps, wherever human beings live or will live, this work Is in progress. Scientists are discovering the invisible, well-concealed haunts of the enemy, They are laying bare the repositories, the reservoirs of the disease-creating microbe in order to protect mankind from it…

Soviet doctors are abolishing malaria by draining swamps and using aeroplanes to spray chemical substances on malaria-infested localities and so destroy mosquitoes. In all the main centres of malaria throughout the entire territory of our country, this exhausting disease, which afflicted millions of people, is almost entirely wiped out. As they master the depths of the taiga, scientists are destroying the haunts of the tick which carries the virus of taiga encephalitis. They find and destroy the natural bases, the secret natural haunts of the microbes which are the sources of infection.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, pp. 55-56)

“Evgeny Nikanorovich Pavlovsky elaborated his theory that diseases have their natural centres” (A. Sharov, Ibid. p. 196)

M. A. LEBEDEVA (1894–1957)

Maria Alekseyevna Lebedeva was a brave pioneering bacteriologist and revolutionary. She specialized in combating plague, and was a co-worker of D. K. Zabolotny.

She was imprisoned for revolutionary activity by the tsarist regime. She continued her scientific work after serving her sentence.

“Geneva, the taiga, revolutionary work, prison, work in an epidemic—this was the perfectly straight road taken by a woman who lived to bring the future nearer.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 124)

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid depiction of the work of Lebedeva.

M. P. POKROVSKAYA (1901-1980, bacteriologist)

Magdalena Petrovna Pokrovskaya. She is known as the creator of the world’s first effective anti-plague vaccine (1934). In reality, an earlier vaccine had already been created by Soviet scientist Vladimir Khavkin. However, Pokrovskaya’s vaccine was far superior.

In 1934-1952 she worked at the Stavropol anti-plague station, headed the laboratory of microbiology. With the reorganization of the station into the Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia in 1952-1953, she held the position of Deputy Director for Research.

The anti-plague vaccine she developed used a living strain of plague bacteria which had been bred to be non-dangerous (avirulent). As a result it was able to provide particularly strong immunizing effect. The earlier vaccine developed by Khavkin had used dead plague bacteria. In order to accelerate the vaccine program, Pokrovskaya tested the vaccine on herself. She took this step because she was convinced the vaccine was effective, and because she was afraid Fascist Japan and Nazi Germany were going to invade the USSR and could have developed plague based bacteriological weapons. It turns out she was correct, as Japanese “Unit 731” really had developed such weapons.

Pokrovskaya was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, the Order of the Red Star, and the medal “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War.”

Life Triumphs by A. Sharov contains a vivid depiction of the work of Pokrovskaya.

A. L. BERLIN (1903-1939, microbiologist)

Abram Lvovich Berlin was a Soviet microbiologist.

N. N. ZHUKOV-VEREZHNIKOV (1908-1981, microbiologist, immunologist)

Nikolai Nikolaevich Zhukov-Verezhnikov. Academician of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. He was a strong advocate of Michurin biology.

Graduated from the Medical Faculty of the 2nd Moscow University (1930). In 1932-1948 he worked in various research institutions in Saratov and Rostov-on-Don. In 1948 he organized and headed the laboratory of experimental immunobiology at the Institute of Experimental Biology of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. From 1948-1950 he was director of the institute. Academician of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences since 1948 and its vice president in 1949-1953.

In 1949, he acted as the Chief Forensic Medical Expert at the Khabarovsk trial of Japanese war criminals.
In 1952 he became Deputy Minister of the USSR Ministry of Health.

Scientific papers
-He researched plague and cholera and proposed methods of preventing these diseases.
-In 1944 he created a new live anti-plague vaccine (“ZhV”).
-Developed a method for treating pneumonic plague. Previously it was considered fatal in practically all cases.
-He put forward the theory of species-forming variability of bacteria.
-Developed the principle of obtaining vaccines against influenza.

“Zhukov-Yerezhnikov and Khvorostukhina together created a new live vaccine “ZhV,” which possessed a wonderful power of producing immunity” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 228)

Zhukov-Yerezhnikov was awarded the Stalin Prize of the second degree (1950), the Honored Scientist of the RSFSR award, two Orders of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, two Orders of the Red Banner of Labor and various medals.


“Soviet scientists Yoff and Tiflov made a close study of the fleas which live as parasites on steppe rodents, and they have explained the importance of certain species of fleas in the spread of plague.

Tumansky and Polyak were the first to prove that it was possible for plague microbes to be preserved for a long time in the organism of fleas, during the period separating one outbreak of epizootic disease from another…

Stupnitsky, Tinker and many others completed the chain of investigations. It appeared that the microbes fully preserve their strength; they, together with the blood of the plague-stricken suslik, could only have entered the belly of the insect when the summer epizootic disease was at its height and long before the rodents’ winter hibernation.” (A. Sharov, Life Triumphs, p. 206)


N. M. PRZHEVALSKY (1839-1888, geographer, explorer of Central and East Asia)

Nikolay Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky was a Russian geographer and renowned explorer of Central and East Asia. He traveled through regions then unknown to the West and discovered many previously unknown species. His contribution to science and his people was recognized in the USSR.

“Przhevalsky” a nice Soviet film about his career.

MIKLUKHO-MAKLAI (1846-1888, legendary explorer, ethnologist, anthropologist, biologist)

Nicholas Miklukho-Maklai (sometimes “Miklouho-Maclay”) was a legendary traveler and explorer who became famous as one of the earliest scientists to settle among and study indigenous people of New Guinea who had never seen a European.

He was a brave fighter for democracy and freedom. He sought to defend indigenous people from colonial exploitation. During his research he became convinced that racism was not scientific:

“His conclusion – that all races possessed identical intellectual potential – led him to campaign against slavery and for the rights of indigenous people.” (The Guardian, The dashing Russian adventurer who fought to save indigenous lives, June 21, 2020)

“Miklukho-Maklai” a nice Soviet film about his career.


“The ideas that the higher layers of the atmosphere… are inaccessible have also… receded into the past: Fedoseyenko, Vasenko and Usyskin, Soviet stratonauts, have made the first successful attempts at mastering the altitudes at the peril of their lives.” (A. Fersman, Geochemistry for everyone, pp. 267-268)

Osoaviakhim-1 was a ground-breaking mission to launch a manned stratospheric balloon. The balloon reached the altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet) successfully and began to descend. The flight lasted 7 hours. However, as the balloon descended to 12,000 meters, it experienced loss of buoyancy and crashed as a result, killing the crew.

The crew consisted of the following persons:

Pavel Fedorovich Fedoseenko (1898-1934) military pilot, aeronaut, commander of the crew. Was previously awarded the Order of the Red Banner and other honors.
Ilya Davydovich Usyskin (1910-1934) physicist.
Andrei Bogdanovich Vasenko (1899-1934) aerological engineer and designer.

All three crew members were posthumously awarded the Order of Lenin. Postage stamps were issued in their honor and their ashes were buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. They have become immortalized as fearless heroes of science.

IVAN PAPANIN (1894-1986, Polar explorer)

Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin was a Soviet polar explorer, scientist, Counter Admiral, and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, who was awarded nine Orders of Lenin.

In 1931 he took part in the expedition of the icebreaker Malygin to Franz Josef Land. In 1932-1933 he was the head of a polar expedition on Tikhaya Bay on Franz Josef Land. In 1934-1935 he was in command of a polar station on Cape Chelyuskin. In 1937-1938 he was in charge of the famous expedition North Pole-1. Four researchers, Ivan Papanin, Ernst Krenkel, Yevgeny Fyodorov and Petr Shirshov, landed on the drifting ice-floes in an airplane flown by Mikhail Vodopyanov. For 234 days, Papanin’s team carried out a wide range of scientific observations in the near-polar zone, until taken back by the two icebreakers Murman and Taimyr. It was the first expedition of its kind in the world. All members of the expedition received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, which was extremely rare before World War II. In 1939-1946 Papanin was the successor to Otto Schmidt as head of the Glavsevmorput’ (Glavniy Severniy Morskoy Put’) – an establishment that oversaw all commercial operations on the Northern Sea Route. In 1940 he received a second Hero of the Soviet Union title for organizing the expedition that saved the icebreaker Sedov. During World War II he was the representative of the State Defence Committee (Gosudarstvennij Komitet Oborony) responsible for all transportation by the Northern Sea Route. In 1941-1952 he was a member of the Central Revision Commission of the Communist Party. In 1948-1951 he was the deputy director of Institute for Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences and from 1951 the Head of the Academy’s Department of Maritime Expeditions.

OTTO SCHMIDT (1891-1956, mathematician, astronomer, geophysicist, polar explorer)

Otto Yulyevich Shmidt was a Soviet scientist, Hero of the USSR (27 June 1937), and member of the Communist Party. He made important contributions especially to geology, but also to mathematics and astronomy. However, he is probably most famous for his leadership of the Polar Expedition North Pole-1.

He worked at Narkompros (People’s Commissariat for Education), the State Scientific Board at the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, and the Communist Academy. He was Chair of the Foreign Literature Committee from October 1921. He was also employed as the director of the State Publishing House (Gosizdat) from 1921 to 1924, and chief editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia from 1924 to 1941. From 1923 he was a professor at the Second Moscow State University and later at the Moscow State University, and from 1930 to 1932, Schmidt was the head of the Arctic Institute.

From 1932 to 1939, he was appointed head of Glavsevmorput’ (Glavnoe upravlenie Severnogo Morskogo Puti) – an establishment that oversaw all commercial operations on the Northern Sea Route. From 1939 to 1942, Schmidt became a vice-president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, where he organized the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics (he was its director until 1949). Otto Schmidt was a founder of the Moscow Algebra School, which he directed for many years.

In the mid-1940s, Schmidt suggested a new cosmogonical hypothesis on the formation of the Earth and other planets of the Solar System, which he continued to develop together with a group of Soviet scientists until his death.

Schmidt was an explorer of the Arctic. In 1929 and 1930, he led expeditions on the steam icebreaker Georgy Sedov, establishing the first scientific research station on the Franz Josef Land, exploring the northwestern parts of the Kara Sea and western coasts of Severnaya Zemlya, and discovering a few islands. In 1932, Schmidt’s expedition on the steam icebreaker Sibiryakov with Captain Vladimir Voronin made a non-stop voyage from Arkhangelsk to the Pacific Ocean without wintering for the first time in history. From 1933 to 1934, Schmidt led the voyage of the steamship Cheliuskin, also with Captain Vladimir Voronin, along the Northern Sea Route. In 1937, he supervised an airborne expedition that established a drift-ice station “North Pole-1”. In 1938, he was in charge of evacuating its personnel from the ice.

Otto Schmidt was a member of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the first convocation (1938-1946).


B. M. KEDROV (1903-1985, philosopher of science)

B. M. Kedrov, “Criticism by modern materialist chemists of the idealistic theory of resonance-mesomerism” (From the book Evolution of the Concept of the Element in Chemistry)

M. B. MITIN (1901-1987, philosopher, philosopher of science)

Mitin was a michurinist philosopher. He studied philosophy at the Institute of Red Professors in 1925-1929, became a member of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in 1919. From 1944 to 1950 he served on the editorial board of the journal Bolshevik. In 1939 he was elected to the Central Committee and as the director of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CPSU Central Committee.

Mitin spearheaded the campaign against Deborin’s menshevizing idealism in the 1930s and consistently defended and developed Dialectical Materialism throughout his career.

Works of Mitin on marxist theory


In The World Of Soviet Science by Oleg Pisarzhevsky

Istoriia Akademii nauk SSSR [History of the USSR Academy of Sciences] (in Russian)

История черной металлургии в СССР [History of ferrous metallurgy in the USSR] Volume 1, by S. G. Strumilin (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)

«Наука и жизнь» . [“Science and life”] no. 5 (1953) (in Russian, but auto-translate works pretty well)


Kachalov – Basic economic law of socialism

The successes of Soviet science:

V. Venikov – Simulation of electrical systems.
V. Dogel – In the world of protozoa.
V. Orekhovich – Conversion of proteins into organisms
L. Masevich – The origin of Stars…
M. Nikolskaya – Insects against insects.
N. I. Nikitin – Lumber Chemistry.
A. Fedorov – In the new China by the paths of Michurin.
L. Solsviev – Increasing the fat content of milk.

Development of I.P. Pavlov’s ideas:

P. Frolov – Hygiene of mental labor…

Science and production:

V. A. Kolesov – 10 norms per shift!

Science and technology news:

S. Samoilov – Gas generator diesel locomotive
V. Zheleznov – Ftivazid
P. Kholopov – Catalog of Professor Kharadze
I. V. Yakushkin, M. Edelstein – Pre-harvest beet feeding

Our homeland:

G. Ushakov – On untouched land

Criticism and bibliography:

N. Shcherbinovsky – Creators of soil science



August Weismann (1834-1914) was a reactionary biologist who invented the so-called “germ-plasm theory”. According to this reactionary theory, heredity is only contained in small particles called the germ-plasm. According to Weismann, the germ-plasm is indestructible, unchangeable and totally separate from the rest of the organism. By this he meant that the heredity of the organism cannot be influenced in any way by its living conditions. The organism inherits the eternal germ-plasm from its parent, and passes it to its own offspring. The living body is only a temporary vessel for the immortal germ-plasm. The germ-plasm basically reincarnates into different bodies. The germ-plasm can never change, it can only grow and divide. Weismann explained hereditary change by claiming that elements of the germ-plasm mix during sexual procreation, although they can never truly change and new heredity can never be added. The existing hereditary elements have existed since the beginning of time. By this Weismann practically denied the possibility of evolution and development from lower to higher organisms. Through fallacious experiments Weismann focused on trying to debunk the inheritance of acquired characteristics, which he failed to do.

The idealist-mystical notion of the eternal germ-plasm which is isolated from the body of the organism is known as weismannism.

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) was an Austrian augustinian monk. Mendel is considered the founder of modern reactionary bourgeois genetics. Living at a monastery he carried out a number of experiments with peas. He developed the idea that heredity consists of “hereditary factors” (now called ‘genes’). He held similar views to weismannism and believed hereditary factors are not influenced by material conditions. Mendel was interested in mathematics, and his main focus was trying to impose statistical laws on biology. He believed that hereditary traits mix during sexual procreation according to mathematical ratios (most famous is his 3:1 ratio). Mendel also developed a number of other views, now often called “Mendel’s laws” such as the idea that traits are passed down separately from each other and that there is no relation between one hereditary trait and another, that there is no blending of hereditary traits etc. It is now recognized that these are not laws, and apply only to a limited extent and only in certain cases.

Mendel’s ratios only apply to certain plants, and as T. D. Lysenko said, they are only a statistical reality, an average, but not something which applies to every individual organism. The phenomena of dominance discovered by Mendel is a real fact but Mendel understood it metaphysically as something absolute. In reality traits can be dominant or recessive depending on the circumstance, and dominance can change.

Mendel’s discoveries did not have any scientific importance during his life and he was ignored, although he was able to present his findings to scientific bodies. He rejected his own findings in his second paper, because he realized his findings only applied to peas (to the degree that they apply at all) and he wasn’t able to replicate them. Mendel’s follower R. A. Fischer also concluded that Mendel had fabricated the data in the paper which showed all his “discoveries”.

Mendel is usually associated with the theory of the “gene” although Mendel didn’t use the term himself. The theory that heredity is contained only in small particles called “genes” which are located in chromosomes, which are mixed during sexual procreation is called mendelism. Mendelism is idealist because it does not recognize heredity as a property of the entire organism in relation its environment, because it sees the genes as something isolated from the rest of the organism and impervious to change and impervious to effects of the material conditions.

According to the chromosome theory of reactionary biologists Sutton and Boveri, the genes, and thus all heredity, are located only in the chromosomes. Soviet science debunked this long ago, and even modern bourgeois science admits that this is not true. The chromosome theory still remains a core principle of mendelism. However, after the theory was debunked and after DNA was discovered, mendelism has begun claiming that genes consist of DNA, and are located where ever DNA exists. This only demonstrates that while DNA actually exists, genes are not real physical things, but merely a theoretical concept.

Mendelism originally opposed Darwinian evolution. Leading mendelists such as Wilhelm Johannsen (1857-1927) denied Darwinian evolution because it was incompatible with mendelism. Darwin also advocated the theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics, while mendelism denies it. Modern mendelism upholds the so-called “modern synthesis” which attempts to combine darwinism with mendelism. They achieved this by distorting darwinism into neo-darwinism. The term “modern synthesis” was coined by reactionary imperialist geneticist Julian Huxley.

Mendelists quickly adopted the pseudo-science known as “eugenics”, which is closely associated with racism and fascism. Developers of the “modern synthesis” Julian Huxley, Theodosius Dobzhansky and their supporters were leaders of the eugenics movement. Eugenics or “population hygiene” is the idea that “inferior people” such as the poor, the disabled or the non-whites, should be killed, aborted, sterilized etc. and thus removed from the “gene pool”. Eugenics is the continuation of “race science”, sterilization of natives and other similar colonialist and fascist policies.

Mendelist Cyril Dean Darlington (1903-1981) also contributed to the “neo-darwinian synthesis”. Darlington who was often criticized in the USSR, supported eugenics and racism:

“English biologist, geneticist and eugenicist, who discovered the mechanics of chromosomal crossover, its role in inheritance… contributed to modern evolutionary synthesis… In 1972 he, along with 50 other prominent scientists signed “Resolution on Scientific Freedom Regarding Human Behavior and Heredity” in which a genetic approach to understanding the behaviour of man was strongly defended. He staunchly defended his colleague in the fight against Lysenkoism, John Baker, who published the controversial book “Race” in 1974. Races are, according to Baker (and Darlington), breeding populations with demarcations drawn at whatever level of detail is required for the problem at hand. Asked by a reporter for the Sunday times whether or not he was a racist, Darlington replied: “Well, I’m regarded as one by everyone except the Jews, who are racist, and who utterly agree with my views.”” (wikipedia)

Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945) carried out mutation experiments with fruit-flies. His work was important for creating the neo-darwinian view of evolution, which is incompatible with the teaching of Darwin but is compatible with mendelism. In the view of Morgan, evolution happens because of mutations which are purely random. He fallaciously claimed there were no governing principles or biological laws behind mutations, because he could not discover any. His theory denies the possibility of discovering the laws behind evolution and also denies the possibility of guiding development of organisms. His theory proclaims man’s powerlessness before nature, and promised absolutely no practical utility.

Morgan also admitted that his mutation experiments using radiation, were not able to produce any beneficial mutations, but only harmful mutations. As a result he questioned whether evolution towards more advanced organisms was possible.

The notion that evolution is entirely random and its laws are unknowable is called morganism. It provides mendelism-weismannism with a way to excuse any changes caused by material conditions and any inherited acquired characteristics, as nothing but “random mutations”. Morganism is unfalsifiable and thus unscientific even by bourgeois standards.


Rudolf Ludwig Carl Virchow (1821-1902) was a physician who invented the doctrine that life can exist only in the form of cells, and that cells can only emerge from other cells. Virchow did not invent the cell-theory, but instead he distorted it. Virchow’s theory is unscientific because it makes it necessary to believe the first cell somehow emerged complete and fully formed. That would be a miracle which presupposes divine creation.

Soviet scientists Olga Lepeshinskaya, Alexander Oparin and their collaborators demonstrated that life began with forms much simpler than a fully formed cell. Even modern bourgeois science doubts Virchowism and it is widely understood that life began with self-replicating proteins. However, Virchowism is still the mainstream consensus among the bourgeois academia.

As a reactionary idealist Virchow denied the materialist theory of Darwinian evolution and called Darwin an ignoramus. He also did not accept the materialist germ-theory of disease developed by Louis Pasteur.


N. K. KOLTSOV (1872-1940)

Nikolai Konstantinovich Koltsov was a reactionary scientist, supporter of mendelism in the USSR. Koltsov supported the fascist pseudo-science of eugenics and was active in the Russian Eugenic Society until it was closed down. Koltsov was arrested and held under arrest in 1920-1921 because of his involvement in the anti-Bolshevik Tactical Center which united reactionary intellectuals to overthrow the government.

I. I. SCHMALHAUSEN (1884-1963)

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen was a leading reactionary mendelist geneticist in the USSR. He advocated neo-darwinism and helped the eugenicists J. Huxley and T. Dobzhansky develop the so-called neo-darwinian “modern synthesis”. His work was translated into english by Dobzhansky. Schmalhausen was removed from his position in the Institute of Evolutionary Morphology and Department of Darwinism of Moscow University in 1948 because of his reactionary views. After the death of Stalin Schmalhausen was a leading figure in the anti-michurinist movement.

N. I. VAVILOV (1887-1943)

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov was a prominent reactionary mendelist geneticist in the USSR. He supported eugenicist pseudo-science and was connected to international eugenicists such as Hermann Joseph Muller. He was also connected to the Right-Opposition. N. I. Vavilov was sentenced to prison in 1940 for sabotage in agriculture and espionage on behalf of Britain. He died in a Leningrad prison in 1943 due to hardships of WWII. His brother was the successful physicist and communist S. I. Vavilov.

P. M. ZHUKOVSKY (1888-1975)

Pyotr Mikhailovich Zhukovsky was a reactionary mendelist geneticist. He was a follower of N. I. Vavilov and involved in the anti-michurinist movement after the death of Stalin.

N. P. DUBININ (1907-1998)

Nikolai Petrovich Dubinin was a leading reactionary mendelist geneticist in the USSR. After the death of Stalin he was a leader of the anti-michurinist movement. During the revisionist period he was promoted and became the head of the Laboratory of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1956.


A Soviet mendelist who defected to Germany and worked for the Third Reich. After the defeat of Nazism in 1945 he returned to the USSR and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was supported by other mendelists and continued to promote reactionary views after his release.

Other significant reactionary mendelists in the USSR were M. M. ZAVADOVSKY (1891-1957) and
A. R. ZHEBRAK (1901-1965).


L. A. ORBELI (1882-1958) received harsh criticism for distorting Pavlov’s theories in support of reactionary mendelism.

P. K. ANOKHIN (1882-1958) attempted to replace Pavlov’s theories with reactionary mechanistic cybernetic theories. Anokhin pretended to support Michurinism (probably so he could steal Orbeli’s position) but showed his true colors when he himself was criticized as a reactionary soon after Orbeli. He signed the notorious anti-Michurinist “Letter of the 300” in 1955.

PETR KUPALOV (1888-1964) was heavily criticized for his distortions of Pavlov’s theory.


B. E. RAIKOV (1880-1966)

Boris Evgen’evich Raikov was a soviet pedagogue who was harshly criticized at a meeting of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences on September 4, 1948, for his promotion of mendelism-morganism and distorting darwinism. Revisionists later rehabilitated him and the 1979 edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia falsely portrays him in a positive light without mentioning the criticisms.


Mendelists in medicine were Leonid Bliakher, Aleksandr Gurvich and Sergei Davidenkov who also attempted to distort pavlovism.


“Cybernetics: a reactionary pseudoscience that appeared in the U.S.A. after World War II”
(Soviet Short Philosophical Dictionary, 1954)

Cybernetics is a reactionary mechanistic and idealist worldview developed mainly by N. Wiener, which denies dialectical materialism. It claims that humans are basically the same as machines. In the 1960s and 70s the term “cybernetics” began to be used for computer science and automation in general, but this is a mistaken usage of the term.

A detailed critique and historical overview of Cybernetics: Cybernetics in the USSR: A Marxist-Leninist Perspective

A. I. BERG (1893-1979, electrical engineer, saboteur, revisionist)

Axel Ivanovich Berg was a Soviet physicist and electrical engineer who at one time held certain responsible positions. He was an Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1946 and member of the CPSU since 1944.

Berg was arrested in 1937 for sabotage and held in custody for 3 years. He was released in 1940 due to insufficient evidence. In the revisionist period he was one of the founders of cybernetics in the USSR.

E. KOLMAN (1892-1979)

Cybernetics was promoted in the USSR by Ernest Kolman who Benjamin Peters in his article “Normalizing Soviet Cybernetics” characterizes as “a failed mathematician” (p. 159).

Kolman was described as a “true stalinist” but in reality he was only a careerist. His commitment to marxism had always been self-serving and disingenuous. He was hardly someone defending the integrity of marxism from bourgeois pseudoscience and “had spent time in a Stalinist labor camp after World War II for straying from the party line in his interpretation of Marxism.” (p. 160).

Later Kolman defected to Sweden where he openly rejected Leninism entirely and strongly criticized Marx and Engels.


P. A. MOLCHANOV (1893-1941, meteorologist, traitor)

Pavel Alexandrovich Molchanov was a Soviet meteorologist who held certain responsible posts such as the head of the Department of Air Navigation at the Leningrad Institute of Civil Air Fleet Engineers, until he was arrested for treason in 1941 and shot.

L. D. LANDAU (1908-1968, physicist)

Lev Davidovich Landau was a soviet physicist and quantum physicist. He held important positions and made contributions to science. However, he also made numerous idealistic mistakes in science and philosophy of science. From 1937 until 1962, Landau was allowed to be the head of the Theoretical Division at the Institute for Physical Problems.

He was held in prison for interrogation in 1938-1939 because he spread counter-revolutionary leaflets which equated Marxism and Nazism.

A. D. SAKHAROV (1921-1989)

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a physicist and counter-revolutionary from the USSR. He was involved in nuclear physics. The USSR was the most advanced country in that field. Since he worked under a team led by brilliant physicists such as Igor Tamm and Igor Kurchatov who won the Stalin Prize for their achivements, Sakharov was also awarded one in 1953. He kept his reactionary views secret while working on nuclear physics and succeeded in leeching off the success of his colleagues. Secretly and later publically Sakharov supported capitalism and imperialism, and after Stalin’s death began campaigning against progressive sciences such as michurinism. He was later stripped of all his awards.

When he was carrying out scientific work he was not given any awards by the West and generally his work was entirely overshadowed by his more capable colleagues, but later he was given a Nobel Prize for being an anti-Soviet dissident.

The Sakharov-Solzhenitsyn Fraud

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