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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dissident Writer Vladimov Dead, 72

NEW YORK -- Georgi Vladimov, a dissident Russian writer whose dark, allegorical novels of life under the Soviet regime forced him into exile, died Oct. 19 in Germany, Agence France Presse reported. He was 72.

Vladimov left Russia in 1983 after tangling publicly with the authorities. His citizenship was restored in 2000, and he was given an apartment in Peredelkino, the writers' colony near Moscow, but he continued to live mostly in Germany. Vladimov's best-known work, "Faithful Ruslan," is a chilling, cynical parable of false hopes in the post-Stalin era. Set in 1956, it follows a vicious guard dog that has been set free after the closing of a prison camp. The animal wanders, confused and purposeless, until the old camp is eventually converted into a factory, and the book ends in carnage as the dog attacks the laborers, mistaking them for newly arrived prisoners.

When a short-story version first appeared in the mid-1960s, many thought it was the work of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" had appeared in 1962. Vladimov's novel was circulated underground until it was published in Germany in 1975. It was translated into English four years later.

By then Vladimov had become known equally for his writing and for his outspoken views. His first novel, "The Great Ore," in 1961, earned him membership in the elite Soviet Writers' Union, but he came under fire for his second, "Three Minutes of Silence," a cold look at fishermen in the northern seas. Publication was delayed for seven years, and Vladimov was accused of "perverting Soviet reality."

In the late 1960s, he supported Solzhenitsyn's campaign against censorship and associated himself with the cause of Andrei Sakharov, the physicist and human rights advocate. In 1977, after being barred from traveling to Germany to promote "Faithful Ruslan," Vladimov quit the Writers' Union in protest and became the head of the unofficial Moscow chapter of Amnesty International. "Every writer who writes anything in this country is made to feel he has committed a crime," he said later.

For the next several years, Vladimov was constantly harassed by the authorities. He was ordered to renounce his "anti-Soviet" activities, but in 1983 he drafted and made public a letter to Yury Andropov, secretary general of the Communist Party, in which he wrote: "I propose another solution less damaging to our government's prestige. I am ready to quit Russia. To be forced into this is painful and humiliating for us."

He received an exit visa and left for Germany, and within months was stripped of his Soviet citizenship. In Germany he edited a Russian journal, Facets, and won the Russian Booker Prize in 1995 for "The General and His Army," his last book.

Vladimov, whose original name was Georgi Volosevich, was born in Kharkov, Ukraine. Both parents were literature professors who later suffered in prison camps. His father was taken prisoner by the Germans in World War II and never returned. His mother was sent to a Soviet camp in 1952 on political charges and was released, shaken, two years later, after Stalin's death.

According to an obituary in The Guardian, he is survived by his third wife, Yevgenia, and a daughter, Marina. His second wife, Natalia Kuznetsova, with whom he left the Soviet Union in 1983, died in 1997.

Vladimov was known as a writer of strong conscience, but denied being a dissident. It is a title, he said in 1983, that "they force on you."