Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov was a Russian and Soviet geneticist, botanist, breeder, chemist, geographer, public and statesman. He was born on November 25, 1887 in Moscow in the Russian Empire. He was an Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929), the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929) and VASHNIL. He was the President (1929-1935), Vice-President (1935-1940) of VASHNIL, President of the All-Union Geographical Society (1931-1940), founder (1920) and permanent director of the All-Union Institute of Plant Growing (1930-1940), Director of the Institute of Genetics of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1930-1940), a member of the Expeditionary Commission of the USSR Academy of Sciences, member of the Board of the People’s Commissariat of the USSR, member of the Presidium All-Union Association of Oriental Studies. In 1926-1935 he was a member of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, in 1927-1929 he was a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, a member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. He was the organizer and participant of botanical and agronomic expeditions that covered most continents (except Australia and Antarctica), during which he identified ancient foci of the formation of cultivated plants. He created the doctrine of the world centres of origin of cultivated plants. He substantiated the doctrine of plant immunity, discovered the law of homological series in the hereditary variability of organisms. He made a significant contribution to the development of the doctrine of the biological species. Under Vavilov’s leadership, the world’s largest collection of seeds of cultivated plants was created. He laid the foundations of the system of state testing of varieties of field crops. He formulated the principles of the country’s main scientific centre for agricultural sciences, created a network of scientific institutions in this field. He died in custody from a decline in cardiac activity against the background of pneumonia and general exhaustion of the body during the Great Patriotic War. The scientist was arrested in 1940 on false denunciation and illegally accused of sabotage and links with opposition political groups, in 1941 — convicted under articles of the Criminal Code of the USSR 58-1, 58-6, 58-11 (sabotage, assistance to bourgeois organizations, preparation or failure to report crimes being prepared) and sentenced to death, which was subsequently replaced by 20-a summer term of imprisonment. In 1955, he was posthumously rehabilitated as a victim of Stalin’s repressions as a part of a campaign to debunk the “cult of personality” initiated by N. S. Khrushchev. He was awarded: in 1925 — the Great Silver Medal named after N.M. Przhevalsky Russian Geographical Society; in 1926 — the Lenin Prize — for the work “Centres of origin of cultivated plants”; in 1940 — the Great Gold Medal of the All-Russian Academy of Sciences – for work in the field of breeding and seed production.
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