Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Lev Rubinstein, Russian Poet and a Critic of Putin, Is Lifeless 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 automobile in Moscow. He was 76.

His loss of life was confirmed by his daughter Maria in a quick assertion on her LiveJournal account. Mr. Rubinstein was struck whereas crossing a road 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 legal proceedings towards him.

Mr. Rubinstein was thought-about 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 among his contributions to the motion was genre-bending “observe 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 referred to as Sholokhov Moscow State College for Humanities. However being topic to censorship inspired him to seek for a unique medium.

“I needed that the textual content could possibly 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 lately the web site Republic.

In 1999, he acquired the Andrei Bely Prize, the primary unbiased literary prize for writing that eschews censorship, for service to “humanities research.” His novel “Indicators of Consideration” 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 based mostly on a few of Mr. Rubinstein’s works that premiered in 2011, mentioned in a cellphone interview. The 2 met 20 years in the past whereas lecturing on cultural journalism in St. Petersburg.

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

Mr. Filanovsky known as Mr. Rubinstein “our linguistic consciousness,” likening his function in public mental life to that of the American writers Allen Ginzberg and Charles Bukowski and the English actor and creator 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.

Lately, Mr. Rubinstein continued to put in writing for independently minded Russian shops. 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 loss of life elicited tributes on social media, together with one from representatives of Memorial, Russia’s best-known human rights group, which was banned by courtroom 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 conflict in Ukraine. However his tragic loss of life in January 2024, simply on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the disaster, appears bitterly symbolic. In the present day’s Russia has no place without spending a dime residents and unbiased poets. It barrels by means of them, not stopping on the purple gentle 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 in the course of the Second World Warfare, recognized in Russia because the Nice Patriotic Warfare. The implications of that conflict had 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 wherein thousands and thousands died.

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

“I admit with disgrace that such an inner imperialism was in us — even though we weren’t imperials,” he mentioned in an interview with the unbiased Russian outlet Meduza revealed in January 2023. “It took effort and time to beat this inside myself. Now, after all, my associates and I’ve eradicated this as a lot as doable.”

Mr. Rubinstein spoke out towards the creeping authoritarianism of Mr. Putin, opposing the silencing of the unbiased 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 “legal conflict” being waged in Ukraine and carried out on the ultimate occasion held in Memorial’s headquarters, which have been shuttered and confiscated by the state.

Full data on survivors was not instantly accessible.

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. “Within the late Soviet years, my closest associates and I had been satisfied that this boring Soviet slime can be with us eternally,” he said. “However the reverse occurred.”

He added, “From these occasions, I can provide easy recommendation: Don’t be afraid.”

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