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Wrong Victim

In response to:

Raised by Wolves from the April 5, 2018 issue

To the Editors:

Tim Flannery’s statement [“Raised by Wolves,” NYR, April 5] that fox geneticist “Dmitri Belyaev’s brother Nicholai, an acclaimed plant geneticist who was skeptical of and opposed Lysenko’s theories, was arrested and executed in 1937” is wrong on several points. The acclaimed scientist in question was Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, born in 1887, far too early to be a brother to Belyaev, whose work began in the 1950s. Vavilov, famous for his centers of origin theory and unmatched collections of crop plant germplasm, was actually arrested by the NKVD on trumped-up charges of being a British spy in 1940. His death sentence was commuted to a twenty-year prison term in Saratov, where he died on January 26, 1943, of cardiovascular failure apparently brought on by severe malnourishment. He was “rehabilitated” in the 1960s.

Ronald M. Lanner
Placerville, California