MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian non-conformist poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who achieved rock star fame during the Soviet era, was hospitalised Sunday after suffering a fall.
The 81-year-old was “admitted this morning in a hospital at Rostov-on-Don following health problems,” the health minister of the southern region told the Interfax news agency.
“The doctors are satisfied with his current condition given his age,” Tatiana Bykovskaya said.
According to the LifeNews television channel, the feisty poet was placed in intensive care after falling on Saturday after attending a concert.
Despite his attacks on Stalinism and Soviet bureaucracy culminating in “The Heirs of Stalin” (1962), Yevtushenko remained a privileged member of the Soviet cultural elite.
His demands for greater artistic freedom were tacitly sanctioned by the Communist party and he was allowed to travel widely abroad, where he read to enthusiastic audiences.
With his boyish good looks and his message of revolt against the burden of the past, Yevtushenko appeared an emblematic figure of the 1960s.
His work was translated into several languages and sold millions of volumes around the world.
But his dissident fire dimmed somewhat after premier Nikita Khrushchev’s removal from office in 1963, and by the 1970s he was being regularly accused of selling out to Soviet orthodoxy.
Yevtushenko was born in Zima, near Irkutsk, in 1933, a fourth-generation descendant of Ukrainian exiles.
He has been living for the past two decades in the United States and has been teaching at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
His 1961 poem “Babi Yar” inspired Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich to write his Symphony No 13 and in 1961, Time Magazine dedicated its cover story to Yevtushenko.