Alexander Goldfarb (biologist)
Alexander Davidovich Goldfarb (a.k.a. Alex Goldfarb, Russian: Александр Давидович Гольдфарб) (born 1947 in Moscow) is a Russian-American microbiologist, activist, and author. He emigrated from the USSR in 1975 and lived in Israel and Germany before settling permanently in New York in 1982. Goldfarb is a naturalized American citizen. He has combined a scientific career as a microbiologist with political and public activities focused on civil liberties and human rights in Russia, in the course of which he has been associated with Andrei Sakharov, George Soros, Boris Berezovsky, and Alexander Litvinenko. He has not visited Russia since 2000.
Goldfarb studied biochemistry at Moscow State University and graduated in 1969. After graduation, he worked at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy in Moscow. He emigrated from the USSR in 1975. He received a Ph.D. in 1980 from the Weizmann Institute in Israel and continued his research with a post-doctoral program at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany. From 1982 to 1991 he was an assistant professor at Columbia University in New York. From 1992 to 2006 he was a faculty member at the Public Health Research Institute in New York where he led a U.S. government-funded study "Structure and Function of RNA Polymerase in E. coli" with a total budget of $7 million. He also directed the project "Treating MDRTB in Siberian Prisons" funded by a $13 million grant from philanthropist George Soros. According to a PubMed search, Goldfarb stopped publishing scientific work in 2005.
After he emigrated, Goldfarb maintained contact with dissidents in Russia and was a spokesman for Moscow refuseniks. He translated for Andrei Sakharov at press conferences in advance of his 1975 Nobel Peace Prize and helped organize the first American television appearance of Sakharov when Mikhail Gorbachev released the physicist from internal exile. From 1984 to 1986 Soviet authorities refused Goldfarb's father permission to leave the USSR after their unsuccessful attempt to make him collaborate and entrap American journalist Nicholas Daniloff.
Goldfarb was among the first political emigres to return to the USSR after Gorbachev launched his reforms. Impressions of his first visit in October 1987 were published as a cover story in The New York Times magazine under the title "Testing Glasnost. An Exile Visits his Homeland".
The story caught the attention of US philanthropist George Soros, leading to a decade-long association between the two men. According to Soros' biographer Robert Slater, Goldfarb was among the first group of Russian exiles in New York whom Soros invited to brainstorm his potential Foundation in Russia. In 1991 Goldfarb persuaded Soros to donate $100 million to help former Soviet scientists survive the hardships of the economic shock therapy adopted by the Yeltsin government.
From 1992 to 1995, Goldfarb was Director of Operations at Soros' International Science Foundation, which helped sustain tens of thousands of scientists and scholars in the former Soviet Union during the harshest three years of economic reform. In 1994 Goldfarb managed Soros' Russian Internet Project, which built infrastructure and provided free Internet access for university campuses across Russia. That project created a controversy because of a conflict with emerging Russian commercial interests in the ISP field. In 1995, during the first months of the First Chechen War, Goldfarb oversaw a Soros-funded relief operation, which ended disastrously with the disappearance of the American relief worker Fred Cuny. From 1998 to 2000 Goldfarb directed the $15 million Soros tuberculosis project in Russia. He worked with Dr. Paul Farmer to battle TB in Russian prisons, an endeavor described by the Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder in his bool Mountains Beyond Mountains.
Involvement in the Litvinenko affair
Goldfarb first met Alexander Litvinenko during his tuberculosis project in Russian prisons. In October 2000, at the request of Boris Berezovsky, Goldfarb went to Turkey where he met Litvinenko and his family, who had just fled from Russia. Goldfarb arranged their entry to the United Kingdom, an offense under British law, for which he was banned from visiting Britain for a year. His involvement would also "...cost him his job with George Soros."
When Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006, Goldfarb was his unofficial spokesman during the two last weeks of his life On the day of Litvinenko's death, Goldfarb read out his deathbed statement accusing Vladimir Putin of ordering the poisoning. The Kremlin dismissed the allegation as "sheer nonsense".
Goldfarb later explained in interviews that he had drafted the statement at Litvinenko's request and that Litvinenko had signed it in the presence of a lawyer. With Berezovsky, Litvinenko's widow Marina, and the human rights lawyer Louise Christian, Goldfarb founded the Litvinenko Justice Foundation to campaign for the truth about his murder, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. He later testified in a libel suit, in which Berezovsky successfully contested the claim by Russian state television station RTR (now Russia 1) that he had murdered Litvinenko.
Goldfarb has published in the editorial pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, and The Moscow Times. He helped Litvinenko to prepare his book Lubyanka Criminal Group for publication. With Marina Litvinenko, he later co-authored the book "Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB", published in Russian as "Sasha, Volodya, Boris....The Story of a Murder." (Russian) , .
- Alex Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko. Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB. Free Press, New York, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4165-5165-2.
Appearances on TV
- Charlie Rose - A conversation with Marina Litvinenko and Alex Goldfarb
- BBC Hardtalk - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/6723863.stm
- Alex Goldfarb, with Marina Litvinenko Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB, The Free Press, 2007, ISBN 1-4165-5165-4.
- "Гольдфарб, Алекс". Lenta.ru. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- Founders: Alex Goldfarb Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Litvinenko Justice Foundation
- "Alexander Goldfarb, Ph.D.". Newark, New Jersey: The Public Health Research Institute Center, New Jersey Medical School. Archived from the original on 2008-04-04.
- "The PHRI/Soros Russian TB Program ... Treating MDRTB in Siberian Prisons". Newark, New Jersey: The Public Health Research Institute Center, New Jersey Medical School.
- When They Come for Us, We'll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry - Gal Beckerman - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- Soviet Dissident Credits Westerners For His Emigration, by Clark Mason, The Harvard Crimson, October 30, 1975
- ALEXANDER GOLDFARB TALKS WITH SOVIET DISSIDENT & FRIEND SAKHAROV, December 26, 1986, NBC News
- "KGB Failed in Bid to Frame Detained Journalist in '84, Soviet Emigre Asserts". Los Angeles Times. September 1, 1986.
- "Soviets Offering New Deal For Daniloff". Chicago Tribune. September 25, 1986.
- Soviets Free Dissident Who Refused to Entrap Daniloff: Hammer's Jet Brings Him to U.S., Los Angeles Times, October 16, 1986
- Barringer, Felicity (October 22, 1987). "On Ex-Dissident's Visit, Amazement in Moscow". The New York Times.
- Goldfarb, Alex (December 6, 1987). "TESTING GLASNOST". The New York Times.
- "George Soros, The Unauthorized Biography (Robert Slater)". Scribd.com. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- Bohlen, Celestine (December 10, 1992). "American Vows Millions to Ex-Soviet Science". The New York Times.
- "Internet: High-Speed Network Will Link Russia's Far-Flung Universities". Sciencemag.org. 1996-08-02. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- "The Lost American - Tapes & Transcripts | FRONTLINE". PBS. 1993-10-03. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- "Google Drive Viewer" (PDF). Docs.google.com. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- Kidder, Tracy (January 28, 2001). "Mission impossible (part two)". The Guardian. London.
- Penketh, Anne (July 6, 2007). "Death of a Dissident, by Alex Goldfarb & Marina Litvinenko". The Independent. London.
- Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Masha Gessen, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, Riverhead Books (Penguin Group): New York, NY 2012, ISBN 978-1-59448-842-9.
- Litvinenko poisoning: the main players, The Guardian, 24 November 2006.
- "Spy's death-bed Putin accusation". BBC News. November 24, 2006.
- "Berezovsky wins poison libel case". BBC News. March 10, 2010.
- Goldfarb, Alex (November 20, 1986). "Gorbachev Loosens the Screws a Bit". The New York Times.
- "Putin and the Victim". The New York Times. July 4, 2007.
- Goldfarb, Alex (January 11, 1987). "What Should We Make of Gorbachev?".
- Goldfarb, Alex (November 2, 1987). "Emigrating From Russia; It's an issue that Reagan and Gorbachev should negotiate at the summit".
- Goldfarb, Alex (May 10, 1988). "Gorbachev: Still A Long Way to Go".
- Goldfarb, Alex (July 18, 2007). "The new Stalins must be kept in check". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- A. Litvinenko and A. Goldfarb. Lubyanka Criminal Group (Russian) GRANI, New York, 2002. ISBN 978-0-9723878-0-4.