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Lev Rubinstein, Russian Poet and a Critic of Putin, Is Dead at 76

Lev Rubinstein, Russian Poet and a Critic of Putin, Is Dead at 76


Lev Rubinstein, a Russian poet, essayist and political dissident throughout each the Soviet and Putin eras, died on Sunday from accidents sustained after he was hit by a automotive in Moscow. He was 76.

His demise was confirmed by his daughter Maria in a quick assertion on her LiveJournal account. Mr. Rubinstein was struck whereas crossing a avenue and had been positioned in a medically induced coma. The Moscow authorities mentioned that the driving force had dedicated quite a few visitors violations and “didn’t decelerate,” and that that they had opened felony proceedings towards him.

Mr. Rubinstein was thought of one of many founders of the Russian conceptualism motion, an avant-garde fusion of artwork and prose that thumbed its nostril on the restrictions of the Socialist Realism that predominated within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s.

One of his contributions to the motion was genre-bending “notice card poems,” with every stanza printed on a separate card. He was impressed by the cardboard catalogs he had encountered as a librarian at his alma mater, the Moscow Correspondence Pedagogical Institute, now often known as Sholokhov Moscow State University for Humanities. But being topic to censorship inspired him to seek for a unique medium.

“I wished that the textual content may very well be an object, a literary object, a theatrical object — all of sudden,” he mentioned in a 2020 interview with the literary journal Pank.

His work was revealed overseas and circulated inside the Soviet Union as samizdat by means of an underground system of reproducing work that might make it previous authorities censors. After the collapse of Soviet Communism, he continued writing for mainstays of the Russian liberal mental press, together with Itogi, Kommersant and extra not too long ago the web site Republic.

In 1999, he acquired the Andrei Bely Prize, the primary impartial literary prize for writing that eschews censorship, for service to “humanities research.” His novel “Signs of Attention” received the NOS prize, a Russian award given yearly for a piece of prose, in 2012.

“He was a residing legend,” Boris Filanovsky, a composer who wrote an opera primarily based on a few of Mr. Rubinstein’s works that premiered in 2011, mentioned in a cellphone interview. The two met twenty years in the past whereas lecturing on cultural journalism in St. Petersburg.

“When he learn his lectures,” he added, “it felt like all contributors have been taking communion.”

Mr. Filanovsky referred to as Mr. Rubinstein “our linguistic consciousness,” likening his position in public mental life to that of the American writers Allen Ginzberg and Charles Bukowski and the English actor and writer Stephen Fry.

“His texts concern the very matter of language — what we are saying in Russia now appears to be stolen from Rubinstein’s texts,” he mentioned.

In latest years, Mr. Rubinstein continued to put in writing for independently minded Russian retailers. He was outspoken about his opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and his assist for the opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny, who has been imprisoned since January 2021 after spending months in Germany recovering from poisoning by a nerve agent.

Mr. Rubinstein’s demise elicited tributes on social media, together with one from representatives of Memorial, Russia’s best-known human rights group, which was banned by court docket order in December 2021 on the eve of the Ukraine invasion. They wrote:

“Rubinstein was not arrested or tortured, he was not poisoned or persecuted in Russia within the time of struggle in Ukraine. But his tragic demise in January 2024, simply on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the disaster, appears bitterly symbolic. Today’s Russia has no place without cost residents and impartial poets. It barrels by means of them, not stopping on the crimson mild to see them cross the highway.”

Lev Semyonovich Rubinstein was born on Feb. 19, 1947, in Moscow. His father, Semyon, was a civil engineer who had served on the entrance throughout the Second World War, identified in Russia because the Great Patriotic War. The penalties of that struggle have been seen all through his childhood, he mentioned in a recent interview; he recalled seeing “the armless, legless and eyeless folks” when his father took him to the general public bathhouse.

His mom, Elena, was born in Ukraine and as a baby there, within the metropolis of Kharkiv, skilled the Holodomor, the Kremlin-engineered famine of 1932-33 during which hundreds of thousands died.

After President Vladimir V. Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Rubinstein spoke a few present of “inside imperialism” current in Russia, even among the many nation’s intellectuals.

“I admit with disgrace that such an inside imperialism was in us — although we weren’t imperials,” he mentioned in an interview with the impartial Russian outlet Meduza revealed in January 2023. “It took effort and time to beat this inside myself. Now, in fact, my buddies and I’ve eradicated this as a lot as attainable.”

Mr. Rubinstein spoke out towards the creeping authoritarianism of Mr. Putin, opposing the silencing of the impartial tv channel NTV. He denounced Moscow’s wars in Chechnya in addition to its unlawful annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. And he actively took half in occasions organized by Memorial, the rights group. In March 2022, he joined writers in an open letter condemning the “felony struggle” being waged in Ukraine and carried out on the closing occasion held in Memorial’s headquarters, which have been shuttered and confiscated by the state.

Complete info on survivors was not instantly out there.

When he was requested, a 12 months in the past, what recommendation he would give to Russians residing by means of the rising repression of wartime, Mr. Rubinstein drew solace from historical past. “In the late Soviet years, my closest buddies and I have been satisfied that this boring Soviet slime can be with us perpetually,” he said. “But the other occurred.”

He added, “From these instances, I may give easy recommendation: Don’t be afraid.”

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