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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cellist Rostropovich Is Hospitalized

APRostropovich conducting the Grand Symphonic Orchestra at the Moscow Conservatory in September 2006.
Renowned cellist, conductor and human rights activist Mstislav Rostropovich is recovering in a Moscow hospital. He is not in serious condition, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"He has fallen ill, but he will be okay," said Rostropovich's spokeswoman, Natalya Dollezhal. Dollezhal declined to discuss Rostropovich's illness but said he was on the mend and "getting ready for his anniversary." Rostropovich will celebrate his 80th birthday on March 27.

President Vladimir Putin visited Rostropovich in the hospital Tuesday evening, the Kremlin announced on its web site. Putin ended his Tuesday meeting with 24 of the country's leading businessmen by saying it was time for him to go visit Rostropovich, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

"And if you have no objections, I will say hello to him from all of you," Putin said, Kommersant reported.

Rostropovich, one of the world's greatest cellists and a human rights campaigner, emigrated with his wife, opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, from the Soviet Union in 1974 under intense pressure from the authorities.

Three years after his exile, he became music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.

Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya returned in 1990, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev restored their citizenship. When hard-line communists tried to overthrow Gorbachev in 1991, the cellist rushed to the Russian parliament building to oppose the coup.

(AP, MT)