Poet of post-Stalin thaw Voznesensky dies at 77

Tue Jun 1, 2010 9:56am EDT
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MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky, who rose to prominence during the thaw which followed dictator Josef Stalin's death and never bowed to the Kremlin, died in Moscow on Tuesday. He was 77.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the much-loved poet had "truly become a person of dominant influence" in a telegram sent to Voznesensky's widow on Tuesday.

"His poetry and prose became a hymn to freedom, love, nobility and sincere feelings," Putin said.

Voznesensky, an architect by education with a passion for painting, finally chose to become a poet, and his works -- first published in 1958 -- fast made him famous in the Soviet Union.

"Your entrance into literature was swift and turbulent. I am glad I've lived to see it," Russian poet and novelist Boris Pasternak, a future Nobel Prize winner who was oppressed in his own country, wrote to Voznesensky when he was 14. The teenage poet had sent him early verses asking for his opinion.

He had been a recluse over the last few years and Voznesensky's friends said he was suffering from an unidentified illness.

Voznesensky, like many other talented young writers, poets and painters from the so-called "generation of the 1960s," enjoyed a whiff of freedom amid the political thaw after three decades of Stalin's brutal rule.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev released hundreds of thousands of political prisoners from Gulag camps, and in 1956 he denounced Stalin's personality cult during a party congress.

But by the early 1960s the official line had hardened again.   Continued...