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#9 - JRL 7259
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003
From: Alexander Domrin <alexander-domrin@uiowa.edu>
Subject: re Yale/ Evtushenko

It was interesting to see comments of Yale Richards (whose book "From Nyet to Da: Understanding the Russians" should be recommended to everybody who begin studying Russia) about Evgeni Evtushenko on JRL (7258).

I have a couple of observations too.

First, I don't think that Evtushenko protested the American war in Vietnam only because he wanted to "maintain his good standing with the Soviet authorities and continue his freedom to travel abroad". The American war in Vietnam was a clear-cut situation: it was an American aggression against a foreign country, the most gross and severe violation of international law. Those who initiated it are war criminals. That's very simple.

On a broader scale, however, Evtushenko was certainly not a dissident and not a "protester". He did only what was allowed by the Soviet authorities to do for artists and poets like him. In this respect, the Soviet regime needed his protests to demonstrate him to naive Western observers and positively influence public opinion in Western countries about the USSR and freedom of speech in my country. The real dissidents and protesters don't have any other feelings for Evtushenko, but disgust. Just speak with them.

It reminds me of a dialogue between Sergei Dovlatov and Iosif Brodsky, a long-time antagonist and die-hard enemy of Evtushenko. (I am not surprised!) As known, being a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 1987 Brodsky resigned in protest over the honorary membership of Evtushenko whom he considered a "Party yes-man".

Shortly before Brodsky's death, he was visited by Dovlatov. Dovlatov didn't expect to see him so ill, and he didn't find anything better how to start a conversation, but to exclaim: "So, you are resting here on a couch, and there [in Russia] Evtushenko is criticizing the kolhoz system." "If Evtushenko is against - I am for it", Brodsky sighed.

Enough said.

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