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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Soviet-era satirist Zinovyev dies
Alexander Zinovyev just after his return to Russia in 1999
Zinovyev was a bitter critic of Gorbachev's perestroika
Alexander Zinovyev, the dissident Soviet satirist who wrote The Yawning Heights and Homo Soveticus, has died of cancer in Moscow, aged 83.

The philosopher was exiled from the USSR for more than 20 years after his "sociological stories" painted an unflattering portrait of Soviet life.

Returning in 1999, he became an equally fierce critic of post-Communist Russia.

In an interview last year, he said he regretted "aiming at Communism" and "hitting Russia instead".

"But I stand by every line of my books because everything I wrote was sincere," he told the Moscow Echo radio station in September.

His wife Olga told the AFP news agency he had died late on Wednesday of brain cancer.

His body, she said, would lie in state at Moscow State University (MGU) to give his admirers an opportunity to pay their last respects before he is buried on Monday.

Swiftian satirist

Zinovyev had an academic career in philosophy at MGU. His satirical writings in the 1970s led to him being forced abroad, and he spent most of his years in exile in Germany.

In one of his works, Go To Golgotha (1982), the writer whom some have compared to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift wrote about what he said was Russians' penchant for suffering:

"We Russians have a rich historical experience of suffering. Suffering has become our accustomed lifestyle and nature. We have a flair for suffering, a talent for it.

"We do it with great courage and patience and, you can say, with professionalism. And with pleasure, of course.

"We Russians supply world culture not just with Communist ideas, spies, vodka, icons and Russian dolls, but with first-class sufferers too."


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