MOSCOW: Russia's science and higher education ministry has dismissed the head of a prestigious genetics institute who sparked controversy by contending that humans once lived for centuries and that the shorter lives of modern humans are due to their ancestors' sins, state news agency RIA-Novosti said Thursday.
Although the report did not give a reason for the firing of Alexander Kudryavtsev, the influential Russian Orthodox Church called it religious discrimination.
Kudryavtsev, who headed the Russian Academy of Science's Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, made a presentation at a conference in 2023 in which he said people had lived for some 900 years prior to the era of the Biblical Flood and that “original, ancestral and personal sins” caused genetic diseases that shortened lifespans.
He also claimed that children “up to the seventh generation are responsible for the sins of their fathers,” according to the Russian news website Meduza.
The head of the Russian church's commission on family issues, Fyodor Lukyanov, said Kudryavtsev's dismissal “for religious beliefs and statements in accordance with these beliefs violates the ethics of the scientific community,” RIA-Novosti said.
“We have already gone through Soviet times, when genetics was long considered a pseudoscience,” Lukyanov said. The Soviet Union under Josef Stalin suppressed conventional genetics in favor of the theories of Trofim Lysenko, who contended that acquired characteristics could be inherited by offspring.