Monday, August 29, 2016


Russians Remember Late Dissident Poet Vysotsky

Vladimir Vysotsky (right) as he appeared in the play "Ten Days That Shook the World" at the Taganka Theater in Moscow in April 1965.
Vladimir Vysotsky (right) as he appeared in the play "Ten Days That Shook the World" at the Taganka Theater in Moscow in April 1965.
Russians are remembering celebrated dissident singer, poet, and actor Vladimir Vysotsky.

Crowds were expected to flock to his grave in Moscow and concerts and memorial events were planned across the world on January 25 to mark what would have been his 75th birthday.

Vysotsky was not just a talented artist. He was also an outspoken critic of the Soviet regime, and his bold and satirical prose expressed the feelings of an entire generation frustrated by Soviet restrictions.

More than 30 years after his death, the gravel-voiced singer remains an idol in Russia.

Most Russians, including the younger generation, still know his songs and poems by heart.

WATCH & LISTEN: Remembering Vladimir Vysotsky

Testifying to his enduring appeal, a film about his life released in 2011 drew huge crowds and earned a record $21 million in its first 10 days at the box office, despite mixed reviews. The film was written by his son, Nikita, and co-produced by Russia's main state-run television station, Channel One.

Despite the relative freedom of expression that his stardom allowed him, Vysotsky was branded subversive under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. As a result, none of his works were published in book form during his lifetime.

His songs were nonetheless widely available through bootleg recordings and samizdat, or underground publications.

Vysotsky was also a popular actor and starred in dozens of plays and films. His performance of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, in particular, won huge critical acclaim.

Some mystery still surrounds his death in July 1980 at the age of 42. Vysotsky is believed to have died of a heart attack likely brought on by years of alcohol and drug abuse -- an issue highlighted in several of his songs.

WATCH: Vysotsky performs one of his most iconic songs, "Koni Priveredlivye" (Mercurial Horses), in a 1983 broadcast:

Soviet authorities posthumously rehabilitated Vysotsky shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985, releasing some of his songs and poems.

In popular culture abroad, Vysotsky's song "Koni Priveredlivye" (Mercurial Horses) fueled an emotionally packed scene in the 1985 Mikhail Baryshnikov vehicle "White Knights," a film about a Soviet ballet dancer who defects to the West.

One of the motives for this rehabilitation may have been the overwhelming reaction to his death.

Although his death was not officially announced by authorities, large crowds stood for several days near his home and outside Moscow's Taganka Theater, where he performed for many years.

Tens of thousands of heartbroken fans lined the streets of Moscow to catch a glimpse of his coffin on the day he was buried, causing a significant drop in attendance at the Olympic Games that were taking place at the time in the Soviet capital.

To honor Vysotsky's memory, a gala concert featuring prominent Russian singers and actors was to be broadcast on national television on January 25.

Dozens of other memorial events are scheduled across in Russia and beyond, including a poetic evening at the Taganka Theater featuring some of Vysotsky's friends and colleagues.
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 25, 2013 15:31
Vysotsky - a "dissident"??? An "outspoken critic of the Soviet regime"??? :-))) I mean, you, guys, never shied away from making the most absurd claims, but the ones cited above are probably the most absurd of all (except, of course, for the claim of Hillary Clinton that "the last days of Bashar al-Assad are coming" :-))).
Could you just do everyone a favor and cite at least ONE of many hundreds songs of Vysotsky in which he positions himself as an "outspoken critic of the Soviet regime" :-)). Please, do so! I mean, really, this one is not a web-site, but a "Kanatchikova datscha", as Vysotsky himself would have put it :-))).
In Response

by: Jack from: US
January 25, 2013 16:47
Eugenio, give RFE/RL a break. The salaries of the RFE/RL staff "correspondents" are on the lowest end of CIA pay scale. What do you expect to see here? a Dostoyevsky? of course not. The major contributors to RFE/RL are my friend Moisha Rabinovich and his girfriend Sara.
In Response

by: Alex from: Baltimore, MD
January 25, 2013 17:53
I do my best to ignore both Eugenio and Jack, but not today.

Eugenio - I guess you don't speak Russian and have never heard VV's songs in the original. His Okhota Na Volkov, one of his most famous songs ever, is a clear dissident statement about what it was like to live in the USSR. Ballada O Detstve is another. I could go on and on. Saying he was not a dissident bard is like saying Alexander Galich wasn't one either. Why the hell do you think so many people came to his funeral in 1980? Because he spoke truth to power in his day.

Jack - not only are you not "Jack from the US," given your atrocious English and your non-American usage patterns, but you are a primitive anti-Semite to boot. Your comments are consistently the most disgusting and offensive comments on the entire RFE/RL website, and I take my hat off to the Radios for demonstrating such commitment to freedom of speech that they continue to post your rantings and ravings.

Both of you are pathetic anti-American left-wing trolls. Your constant references to the CIA is just ridiculous and only demonstrates your primitive, anachronistic, and conspiracy-addled mindset. Please crawl back into your respective caves and never come out again. You add no value to any discussion here.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 25, 2013 19:07
You just put your fingure on it, Jack: in their next edition they will says that Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy were "outspoken critics of the Soviet regime". I hope your friend Moisha will find a better job soon - so that the quality of journalist on this web-site will improve a little :-).
In Response

by: Jack from: US
January 25, 2013 19:40
yes Eugenio, I talked to my friend Moisha today and he says he is busy trashing comments from Vakhtang and Konstantin, while his girlfriend Sara is collecting foodstamps. He does not have time to control the quality of articles submitted by other CIA employees. Which is why I say we should give RFE/RL a break. They are good for a laugh sometimes
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 25, 2013 22:38
So this is RFE-Radio Free Eugenia and RL-Radio Free LumberJack speaking the truth,all the truth and nothing but the Truth-the soviet Thruth,that is.The difference between the soviet truth and the human one is like the one between the electric chair and the ordinary one.But dont criticize the bedfellows-God has forgiven them as they dont know what they are talking about.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 27, 2013 06:25
Vysotskyiy was a talented Russian poet-bard,
However never a dissident in KGB-CIA sence,
A game of East-West "sosushestvovanie" art.
His songs-"himns" are heared in many places
By Spethnaz and army men, and other "brats".

"Ohota na volkov" is "himn", but not for theafs,
For brotherhood of "Union of Russian people"
And "bespredel" that includes "blatnoe" ripple
For "misterious" Russian soul - bitterly greef,
Like crying Hitler - to expand a Russian bluff.

I do not think that Vysotskyiy planed this use,
But Russia, as any tirranies, used his talent.
His tragic life, as the non-Russians abused,
His alchogolism, ilness and death - all went
As scenario of racist Russia, it was his faith.

His father killed in WW2, as was also mine,
Also were millions of others - saved us not
From hate of Russia's ruling class venom.
Using or stealing from us, squizing garrot
On our souls, breed Varaga's nazi genom.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 27, 2013 10:49

To me accept stupid move, make Baryshnikov dissident,
To accept him create of Vysotskyiy a dissident, insulting.
Baryshnikov was let go to USA by Khrutchev as element
Of anti-Georgian propaganda - replace motive in dancing
With nose of nephiew of Georgian King, Peter the Great,
In old versions - by Russian "natcraker" pig-like nose-ing.

Baryshnikov was talented, of coarse - and he was used
By Khrutchevian "hlopchiks", but it is typical for Rashkas,
To make "petuh" to prize "kukushka", in this case abuse,
Create a chain of phony political propaganda "blyashkas".

"Koni priveredlivye" is simply sound-bite of loyal knight -
Whose horses during his battles try through him down -
Not for all too well fighting horseman, but for rulers right,
Dislike a smell of "Polak's" blood in highest ranks bard.
He screems, but keep ride as Russian master's pown.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 27, 2013 14:17
Dear Con.,the Bechtels got you again.Vysotsky`s father wasnt killed in the war and Baryshnikov defected in Brezhnyev`s time.Meanwhile whose side did your father fought in WW ii ?And yes,Vysotsky was not a dissident,he was so happy with the soviet ay of life that he took to alcohol and drugs to celebrate his happiness and finally he didnt come back from the battle-Ne vernulsya s boya-the battle with his country`s red fascists that is !!!
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 27, 2013 21:04
It does it, you are not just Camel of Anush,
But down to each point that GRU would defend.
It was a common understanding that during WW2
His father fought against nazi Germany (mine too),
That was a motive of some of his songs, GRU liked.

That also would compell you bite me for "tragic life"
I presumed he had. I ment "Khrutchevian hlopchiks"
As I named them in another line, as was Brezhnev,
Replacing Khrutchev "zhelaemoe za deistvitel'noe"
With more realistic preparation for annexing all CIS.

Vysotskyiy was of Polish extraction - tough life live,
Being used as a bard by rising "Imperialist" Russia
And swallow their race hate being in spirit deprived,
Float in vodka, between nomenclatura and parasha.

by: Mamuka
January 25, 2013 23:19
Vladimir Vysotsky (not to be confused with today's "VV") definitely was 'socially conscious' and used his music to make commentary, but to call him a "dissident" as the term was used in the west is misleading. He could never have made his films, particularly Mesto Bsctrechi, if he had been a true dissident-- the authorities would not have allowed it.

But dissident or not, he continues to grow in popularity, I don't think his popularity is limited to old folks yearning for the good old bad old days.

vaime I hate it when I have to agree, even slightly, with Jack from Vologda
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 26, 2013 09:55
Aha, finally the RFE/RL made their statements so absurd that even Mamuka had to agree with Jack - NO WAY Vysotsky was a "dissident", God forbid EVER discovering in his songs ONE line that could be referred to as "outspoken criticism of the Soviet regime". Some "satirical reflections" on "certain aspects" of life maybe, but not more than that.
I would even assume that the person who wrote this article has no more clue about the oeuvre of Vladimir Vasotsky than George W. Bush had about Middle-Eastern politics or Hillary Clinton about Libia. An institutionalized incompetence as a major living principle in the land of professional Beavuses and Buttheads...

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 26, 2013 19:29
No, I mean, really: I have just heard once again all the songs fragments of which one can find on this very same web-site ( and still can not figure out in what specific lines of what specific song these guys found even HINTS at "outspoken criticism of the Soviet regime".

by: American Troll
January 28, 2013 07:54
I'm vaguely familiar with two Russian musical acts. One is TATu. The other is not.

by: Insert Fake Name Here
January 30, 2013 11:23
Trolls hate everything, because trolls are sad. Any article posted can be found to have errors, twists, or just outright nonsense. Logic can be used to find flaws in anything. ... Putting poison barbs on the words is just a method // the class clown gets into that position by having nothing worthwhile to contribute. It's just my opinion, yeah, but once you start insulting the other posters, you've lost. Immediately, internet trollfest becomes a fail.

I mean, why not just go the youtube route and start mentioning Justin Beiber in every post?

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