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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 10:23 GMT
Pasternak's grave hit by vandals
Dr Zhivago
Keira Knightley and Hans Matheson starred in a TV version of Dr Zhivago
The grave of Russian literary giant Boris Pasternak, author of Dr Zhivago, has been desecrated by vandals.

Wreaths taken from around the cemetery were set alight on top of the writer's gravestone, Russian TV reported.

Pasternak's daughter-in-law, Natalya, said she feared the monument, which features a sculpture of the writer, could be lost forever.

Pasternak won a Nobel Prize for Dr Zhivago in 1958, but rejected it under pressure from the Soviet government.

The epic novel tells the story of a Russian poet and his lover during the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and its cruel aftermath.

Russian ban

Soviet censors refused to allow publication of the novel, but it eventually appeared in Italian and English translations.

A Hollywood adaptation of the story, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, won five Oscars in 1966.

Doctor Zhivago was not published in Russia until 1988 and Pasternak was posthumously recognised for writing a masterpiece. He died in 1960.

A 2002 TV mini-series based on the novel and starring Keira Knightley was eventually shown in Russia.

Pasternak's summer house, or "dacha", is visited by thousands of local and foreign tourists each year.

His grave is in a cemetery in the famed writers' retreat of Peredelkino outside Moscow.

Workers said several other graves at the cemetery were damaged in the attack.

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