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Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 13:22 UK

Russia writer Mikhalkov, 96, dies

Sergei Mikhalkov in 2003
Mikhalkov received many awards from the state for his work

Sergei Mikhalkov, the Russian who wrote the words of the Soviet and Russian national anthems, has died aged 96.

He first wrote the lyrics for the anthem during World War II, when Stalin was Soviet leader, but later rewrote them to omit references to him.

Mikhalkov also wrote the words for the current Russian anthem adopted in 2001.

In addition he wrote books for children, film scripts, plays and fiction. He is the father of Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the music and words of the national anthem were replaced.

But in 2000, Vladimir Putin - who was then president - decided to restore the old music by Alexander Alexandrov, and Mikhalkov supplied new lyrics.

While Mikhalkov's first version praised Stalin and his second Lenin, the current lyrics hail Russia's uniqueness and vastness and refer to it being a land "protected by God".

He was decorated by the state for his various works.

As a member and chairman of the state-controlled Soviet Writers Union, Mikhalkov was part of smear campaigns against authors including Nobel Prize winners Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Associated Press news agency reports.



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