Readersforum's Blog

November 23, 2012

Boris Strugatsky: Russia mourns death of sci-fi writer – even Vladimir Putin

Russian president pays tribute to author critical of totalitarianism of Soviet system and growing authoritarianism since 2000.

By Miriam Elder

Vladimir Putin and Russia’s liberal opposition who accuse him of growing authoritarianism have came together to mourn the death of Boris Strugatsky, a science fiction author famous for novels critical of the totalitarian Soviet system.

Strugatsky died in St Petersburg on Monday, aged 79, his foundation said. Media reports said he had been hospitalised with an illness.

Strugatsky, along with his brother Arkady, who died in 1991, wrote many novels and short stories critical of Soviet authoritarianism. When they began writing in the 1950s they were able to evade censors by placing subtle criticism in the context of distant planets and universes. That changed as time went on and they faced state censorship.

Among their most celebrated works are Roadside Picnic – the basis for director Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker – and Hard to be a God – the story of a man who visits another planet and grows horrified with its government’s cruel methods of stifling human development and freedom.

Boris Strugatsky had been critical of Putin and the authoritarian system he has built since coming to power in 2000. In his last interview, given in September 2011, he accused Putin of attempting to return Russia to the turn of the 20th century.

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