New Functions for the [Security] services (26.10)

<<No 26 : 5 July 1972>>

On 2 July the Ninth International Congress of Gerontologists opened in Kiev. An hour before the inauguration of the congress the well-known Soviet biologist Zhores Medvedev, expounded a theory on the causes of ageing which has been received with much interest, was detained and expelled from Kiev.

Zh. A. Medvedev is the author of works which have circulated widely in samizdat and been published in the West: A History of the Biological Debate in the USSR, International Co-operation between Scientists and National Frontiers, Secrecy of Correspondence is Guaranteed by Law, and A Question of Madness (written jointly with R. A. Medvedev, being an account of the compulsory hospitalization of Zh. A. Medvedev in a psychiatric hospital, see CCE 14.3).

The story of Medvedev s highly original “participation” in the congress runs as follows. About a year ago Zhores Medvedev accepted a proposal from the Council of the international Association of Gerontologists to deliver a lecture at the Kiev congress. (Such a proposal is traditionally regarded as a mark of recognition of the researcher’s [note] indisputable success.) Soon afterwards he was also invited by the Soviet organizing committee in Kiev to participate in the congress. Zh. A. Medvedev sent the organizing committee a resume of his lecture, the necessary documents and the registration fee. But shortly before the congress the organizing committee returned his fee and informed Medvedev that in connection with the large number of applications to deliver lectures, his address had not been included in the agenda of the congress. Medvedev communicated the decision of the organizing committee to the Council of the International Association of Gerontologists. The Association’s President expressed his bewilderment at this action on the part of the organizing committee, which had been taken without the Council’s consent and in defiance of its wishes.

Deprived thus of his official invitation to the congress, Zh. A. Medvedev took his normal holiday leave and on 29 June travelled to Kiev, where he stayed with friends.


A Vice-President of the International Association of Gerontologists and Chairman of the organizing committee, Academician [D. K] Chebotaryov of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, and his deputy on the organizing committee, in a talk with Medvedev, turned down his request to participate in the work of the congress, alluding first to the absence of vacant rooms in hotels and then to the lack of time to complete the formalities. However, it was indicated that entrance to the conference-sessions was not restricted. Prior to the start of the congress Zh. A. Medvedev had professional meetings with several Soviet and foreign scientists.

On 2 July 1972, the day of the official inauguration of the congress, Medvedev noticed that he was being shadowed. An hour before the opening, as he stood near the theatre where the opening ceremony was to be held, he was surrounded by a group of six plain-clothes men accompanied by a police officer. The persons surrounding Medvedev ordered him to go along with them. To Medvedev’s question of why, or at least, by whom he was being detained, they did not reply. At that moment, a group of people wearing congress badges appeared nearby. Noticing this, the plain-clothes men grabbed Medvedev by the arms, bundled him into a car and drove him to a police station.

At the police station Medvedev was accused of disturbing the peace, the allegation being made first that this had taken the form of resistance to a representative of authority, and then that he had attempted to gain entrance to a congress with which he had no connection. The persons who talked with Medvedev were fully aware of the fact that his lecture had been included in the congress’s agenda and that he had had an interview with Chebotaryov. Medvedev was in the police station for about five hours, finally he was told simply that he must leave Kiev, and that if he tried to return to the congress, he would be expelled again. Although. Medvedev had not named the address of “the friends with whom he was staying, a little while later his luggage was brought by one of the “plainclothes men”. Medvedev was handed a ticket to Moscow, for which he paid there and then. The employee of the mysterious official “organs” who escorted him to the station stood on the platform until the train left.


Medvedev turned out to be the only Soviet scholar whose works were mentioned in the opening address by the President of the International Association of Gerontologists [Dr. Nathan Shock of Baltimore].

Recently Zh. A. Medvedev was officially informed that his request to attend the International Biophysical Congress in Moscow in August 1972 as a guest had been granted. Shortly afterwards, however, on the order of the General Secretary of the organizing committee of the Biophysical Congress, L. P. Kayushin [note 1], he was rejected in connection with the limited seating accommodation.



[1] Professor Kayushin’s repressive role in another case was described in CCE 8.12 (item 14).