Vladimir Putin and Russia’s liberal opposition who accuse him of growing authoritarianism have came together to mourn the death of Boris Strugatsky, a science fiction author famous for novels critical of the totalitarian Soviet system.
Strugatsky died in St Petersburg on Monday, aged 79, his foundation said. Media reports said he had been hospitalised with an illness.
Strugatsky, along with his brother Arkady, who died in 1991, wrote many novels and short stories critical of Soviet authoritarianism. When they began writing in the 1950s they were able to evade censors by placing subtle criticism in the context of distant planets and universes. That changed as time went on and they faced state censorship.
…Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, wrote on Twitter that Strugatsky was “a great writer and thinker. An irreplaceable loss to Russian and world literature.”
The Strugatskys’ writings received a fresh wind of popularity in Russia earlier this year, as the growing opposition to Putin drew parallels between the dark worlds the authors depicted and modern Russia.
Dmitry Bykov, a popular poet, critic and opposition activist, wrote: “He was an absolute, pure genius. With his departure, everything has become darker and more airless.”
“Successive generations of Russian intellectuals were raised on the Strugatskys,” said Muireann Maguire, a fellow at Oxford University. “Their books can be read with a certain pair of spectacles on as political commentaries on Soviet society or indeed any repressive society.”