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Russian Author, Former Soviet Dissident Voinovich Dies At 85

Russia author and former Soviet dissident Vladimir Voinovich has died at age 85.
Russia author and former Soviet dissident Vladimir Voinovich has died at age 85.

Russian author and former Soviet dissident Vladimir Voinovich has died at age 85, Russian state media, his family, and friends are reporting.

The date, place, and exact cause of his death were not immediately reported, but the TASS news agency quoted his wife, Svetlana Kolesnichenko, as saying on July 28 that his funeral would likely be held on July 30.

Voinovich was born on September 26, 1932, in the city of Stalinabad, as the Tajik capital of Dushanbe was then called. His father was arrested in 1936 on charges of anti-Soviet agitation and spent five years in dictator Josef Stalin's labor camps.

In 1969, the first part of his classic satirical novel The Life And Extraordinary Adventures Of Private Ivan Chonkin was published, followed by the second part 10 years later.

He is also known for his dystopian 1987 novel Moscow 2042, in which the country is ruled by a Communist Party Of State Security that combines elements of the Soviet Communist Party, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the KGB secret police.

In 1974, the Soviet government began harassing Voinovich because of his writing and his human rights activism.

He was stripped of his citizenship and forced into external exile in 1980, working for a time for Radio Liberty. His citizenship was restored by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev a decade later, and he returned to live in Russia.

In 2002, he won the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Writer's Civic Courage.

In comments to RFE/RL in 2017, Voinovich said that under President Vladimir Putin, Russian politics had turned to face the past, focusing on purported achievements in Russia's ancient and recent history instead of building toward a vision of the future.

"When Putin came to power, he turned to the most conservative elements of society, especially to veterans of World War II, to the old people who participated or didn't participate in the war, who paraded around not so much with huge numbers of military ribbons, but with tokens of years of service," Voinovich said.

"This was a turning to the past, and it was the beginning of the politics of turning to the past. Of course, any normal politics are oriented toward the future. You need to count not on old people who are dying or are already dead, but on the young people who are being born and are growing up," he added.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service
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