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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Russian writers attack 'censure'
Writers say the trend threatens democracy in the country
A group of Russian writers and musicians has expressed concern that Soviet-era dissident writers are being dropped from the mandatory curriculum in high schools.

In an open letter to Education Minister Vladimir Filippov in the Izvestiya newspaper, they say novelists of the stature of Boris Pasternak - who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1958 - are now being recommended for optional reading only.

"Soviet canon continues to push out the historical truth that has been acquired over the past 10 years on the ... repressive regime and its... consequences on the people," the letter said.

"We are worried by the dangers posed to the formation of a democratic and socially responsible spirit for the new generations," it added.

The letter said that among the other "blacklisted" authors were such famous poets as Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam and also novelist Andrei Platonov.

In the former Soviet Union, writers had to receive state approval to publish their works, and many dissident writers had been subjected to harsh repressions by the state.

Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago was only published in Russia in 1988 - 30 years after it was first published in the West.

"We think the main goal of school is forming a personality with a critical and freedom-loving spirit which loves and knows its country and not just the 'chosen parts' of its difficult history," the letter said.

The letter was signed by 13 Russian cultural figures, including poet Andrei Voznesenky, writer Fazil Iskander and musician Andrei Makarevich.

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