2009-08-27 15:59:41 UTC
AP - 27 August 2009 19:53:25 By MANSUR MIROVALEV
Sergei Mikhalkov, an author favored by Stalin who wrote the lyrics for the Soviet and Russian national anthems, persecuted dissident writers as part of the Soviet propaganda machine and fathered two noted film directors, has died at age 96.
Mikhalkov died in a Moscow hospital on Thursday, said Denis Baglai, a spokesman for his son, director Nikita Mikhalkov. Baglai said he had no further details immediately.
The death of a man whose life and achievements embodied most of Russia's Communist era was mourned by Russian leaders and received extensive coverage on state television.
"At all times, Sergei Vladimirovich lived up to the interests of his motherland, served it and believed in it," President Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement.
In 1943, Mikhalkov, a young author and war correspondent whose poems were favored by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was commissioned to write lyrics for a new Soviet anthem designed to inspire Red Army soldiers in the midst of World War II.
Mikhalkov's lyrics, co-written with journalist El Registan and set to music by Alexander Alexandrov, lauded Stalin who "brought us up on loyalty to the people" and "inspired us to labor and to heroism."
The anthem propelled Mikhalkov into stardom that outlived Stalin and the system he created. After the dictator's death in 1953, the anthem was mostly performed without the lyrics, but Mikhalkov remained one of the most vocal and outspoken bards of Communism.
He received numerous state awards for his children's books, film scripts, plays and fiction. He churned out adaptations of Russian and European classics -- including Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper" -- transforming them according to Politburo-prescribed ideological recipes.