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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Country' Writer Backs Yeltsin

Viktor Astafiev was never a political writer. But when Boris Yeltsin came to his native village of Ovsyanka, near Krasnoyarsk, over the weekend, Astafiev saw fit to deliver such a ringing endorsement that even the candidate had to be surprised.

When asked what advice he had given Yeltsin during their meeting, Astafiev said: "I told him history would not forgive him if he allowed the Communists back to power," NTV's news program "Itogi" said.

"This is the catastrophic situation we find ourselves in. If we allow Satan back to power again it will be the end," Astafiev said, referring to Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. "And he is Satan, sent down by God to us as a trial," he said, adding that none of the campaign promises made by the Communists would be fulfilled.

Astafiev, 72, was a leading exponent of the so-called "country prose" school that emerged after the Thaw. Other leading figures in the school were Vasily Shukshin and Fyodor Abramov. This was mildly dissident literature in the sense that it focused on rural people and a way of life outside of party plans and discipline.

"Yeltsin has a fairly typical Russian national character, and Astafiev spent his career writing about this character," said Moscow writer Mark Shatunovsky. "And he always opposed the Communists. So for these reasons it was quite natural for him to support Yeltsin."

Astafiev's support for Yeltsin was so firm that he refused to see anything unusual about the fact that the road that served as Yeltsin's route to the village was repaired for Saturday's visit. Although the practice harks back to Soviet treatment of visits by party officials, Astafiev justified it in his familiar rustic terms. "A peasant washes the floor and the stove before a guest arrives. We will uphold these traditions," Astafiev said.