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According to the London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran has one of the highest execution rates in the world, as well as a long record of killing former officials and leading business figures found guilty of corruption. The regime staged at least 31 public executions last year. The anti-corruption courts have sped up the process, activists say.

The latest figures show at least seven new death sentences, with many of the trials broadcast live on national TV. Critics say the proceedings lack due process and feature quick rulings that are often based on confessions extracted under duress. Ghasemi , activists say, were executed not for breaking any laws but for running afoul of the gold market operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC sees itself as the defender of the Islamic Revolution but also has established its own business empire that includes engineering services, construction, and oil and gas operations.

The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, which tracks prosecutions, has called for an immediate stop to the courts and demanded reviews of all sentences issued thus far. Ghassem again denied they had traded gold wrongly, but they were hanged at dawn anyway.


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Click here for reprint permission. Another of his highly acclaimed and award-winning novels is "Nemsty" The Germans , which is about the lives of Moscow bureaucrats. Mamleev is considered to have created a new literary style, metaphysical realism, which finds expression in his philosophical study, "The Fate of Existence. The author belonged to a group of semi-underground writers not recognized by the Soviet regime and ignored by Soviet publishers. His early works were distributed via the samizdat system.

Written in , the mystical novel, "The Sublimes," is one of Mamleev's most famous works.

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Petrushevskaya is also a singer giving concerts in her 70s, and a playwright. Her plays have been staged in many theaters. She has also collaborated with animation genius Yuri Norsteyn, author of "Hedgehog in the Fog," and she wrote the screenplay for his, "Tale of Tales. These simple stories were an Internet success, and adults made their own cartoons and fan fiction based on them.

Maxim Amelin is widely published and probably the leading Russian contemporary poet. He is also a translator of classical authors such as Catullus and Pindar, and since he has been working as chief editor of OGI, a publishing house that prints rare masterpieces for the Russian book market and sells literary titles in Russian and English. Amelin is among the last generation of poets raised in the Soviet Union.

As a translator and writer, he believes "poetry should be translated by poets. Rubina was born and spent her childhood years in Tashkent, the sun-soaked Central Asian city where representatives of different cultures and ethnicities lived side-by-side during the Soviet period. The scorching sun, the polyphony of an Oriental city, various episodes from her early and teenage years come up again and again in Rubina's novels and short stories.

In her epic and best-selling novel, "On the Sunny Side of the Street," which is set in Tashkent, a fictional plot interweaves with memoirs of real-life Tashkent residents to produce a truly powerful effect. Her protagonists are often artistic and unconventional people: The author lives in Israel now, but she is a frequent guest to Russia, coming to do book presentations, which are always popular, gathering large crowds.

Gazdanov debuted in the literary arena in the late s, first as an author of short stories. Gazdanov left the Soviet Union for Paris in , when he was 20, and had to take whatever jobs came his way: He was even forced to live on the street, until he found a job as a night taxi driver in In the years preceding World War II, the writer published two books: In the latter, the protagonist is a night taxi driver in Paris Gazdanov's alter ego, of course.

Yuzefovich has tended to focus on historical themes and difficult subject matter. His recent award-winning documentary novel, "The Winter Road," begins towards the end of the Civil War, when the Bolsheviks already claimed victory in European Russia, but fighting continued in the distant Far East. To write this book, the author researched dozens of diaries, memoirs and letters, comparing different versions of the same events.

Rather than presenting his own ideas about the course of history, he presents the events dispassionately in his narrative. Additionally, his protagonists are often members of little known or mostly ignored groups. Victor Pelevin used to be a guru of the Russian reading public. In , Yakhina broke onto Russia's literary scene with her first novel, "Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes," which at once won all of Russia's main literary prizes and became the most discussed book of the year.

Surviving winter in the forest with other prisoners and even giving birth to a son, she finds a new and even better life there and finds love with her guard. Like him, Paustovsky traveled a lot, dedicating his books to the places he visited: Sorokin is one of Russia's most controversial and important contemporary writers.

In s he was one of the main figures of the Moscow conceptualist underground.


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His most popular books are "The Day of the Oprichnik" depicting the times of Ivan the Terrible with clear parallels to contemporary Russia. His underground publishing work eventually cost his father his diplomatic career — a saga that Erofeyev would later use as the plot for his novel, "The Good Stalin. The poem was very popular, especially among those who served and fought against the Nazis.

Let's jump to writers who brought World War II to the mass audience. Vasilyev volunteered to fight in the War at the age of 17, and it's hard to imagine Russia's war literature without his, "The Dawns Here Are Quiet," a story about four girls and their commander who are fighting Nazis in the forest.

The novel, which was staged and screened several times, still brings people to tears. Thanks to Vasilyev and a generation of writers whose art was born from battle, the war was seen in a new light: Vasilyev made a big name for himself as a scriptwriter. Petersburg, Olga Bergholz became a symbol of the Siege of Leningrad and the efforts to survive in such a terrible situation. During the blockade she broadcast her poems via loudspeakers and radio to bolster the spirit of locals.

Aware that she was on the other end of a microphone, barricaded just like them, Leningraders got some sense of hope. After all, amid shelling and starvation, she was still writing poems and would recite her poems, about suffering, fear, the horror of death, and the unbearable lives they were living.

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Bergholz was inspired and influenced by the already revered Anna Akhmatova, who also wrote poems from besieged Leningrad and witnessed the first artillery shelling of the city. Alexander Fadeyev is most famous for "The Young Guard," a novel set in occupied Ukraine in , which is among the best-known Soviet books about the War. The end of the Young Guard was tragic, however. Teenage partisans were betrayed, tortured and killed by the Germans. The captivating and heroic book, viewed as historically accurate but fiction nonetheless, was included in the Soviet school program for literature, but only after Fadeyev promised to rewrite portions of the book to satisfy the Communist Party in Fadeyev was also a head of the state-sponsored Union of Writers, taking part in most persecution against "anti-Soviet" writers.

Grossman vividly observed and recorded the tragedy of a people living in a totalitarian society and at war. And like so many of his peers, he never saw his own great work published. The novel was considered anti-Soviet, however, and the book had to be smuggled out of the country. But the author became famous during his lifetime for war essays and reports, which are also published in English in a collection, "A Writer At War: Individual portraits of lives held hostage and neighborhoods under attack are impossible to forget.

The work chronicles the life and death struggle of a city and its people, who, condemned to hell on earth, never surrendered. One of the rare 18th century writers in our list was very important and was one of the first Russian writers who was persecuted and exiled because of his work. Written following the wave of socio-political upheavals after the American War of Independence and just as the French Revolution was getting started, Radishchev hoped to change something in Russia by exposing the dire situation of the peasants.

Radishchev was arrested and put into the dread prison of the Peter and Paul Fortress. The Empress at first wanted the death penalty for the writer, but decided to show mercy and exiled him to Siberia. Writer and political thinker Alexander Herzen is considered to be a revolutionary, and tends to be thought of the way Vladimir Lenin interpreted him: Herzen launched revolutionary agitation. He is author of a novel asking one of the main questions for Russians even today, "Who is guilty?

Nikolai Chernyshevsky is a 19th-century Russian revolutionary democrat and philosopher who set out a utopian vision of a socialist society that was "beyond" capitalism. This is the story of Vera Pavlovna, a young woman struggling to escape a passionless life that her scheming and greedy mother tries to impose by marrying her off to their landlord. Seeking independence, she enters into a marriage of her own arrangement with a revolutionary-minded medical student, Lopukhov, and starts a successful business as a seamstress.

In , Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Today her books are translated into dozens of languages. Alexievich makes her living as an investigative journalist rather than a writer.

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Her literature is diverse, and is not always elegant. Alexievich has strong anti-Russian political views. Prilepin is definitely the leading contemporary war writer. In real life, Prilepin was a member of the banned National Bolshevik Party in and later of a similar party called the Other Russia. He participated in demonstrations together with his former comrade, Eduard Limonov. Prilepin's works have received various awards. After publishing this book Prilepin announced taking a break in literature to become the leader of a battalion in the Donetsk People's Republic DPR fight for independence from Kiev.

Yevtushenko is representative of the post-War generation of writers, and is one of those rare poets whose lines have become part of the fabric of modern language, and have turned into popular sayings: As one of the s poets together with Voznesensky and Rozhdestvensky, he was very popular and packed stadiums where he read poems. Another writer who suffered from Soviet authorities, Shalamov survived in a scarier place than the War because these were not Nazis but Soviet citizens who killed Soviet citizens. It depicts the unemotional brutality of power and the range of human suffering.

Thematically, each story is self-contained, focusing on a different element of GULAG life, a specific event or a personality. However, this thematic division masks a deeper artistic unity. Famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova had a tragic life. Her husband, poet Nikolai Gumilev, was executed and their son Lev Gumilev was arrested. Nikolai was a Silver Age poet who created a new literary movement — acmeism - which depicted direct expression through clear images and which was in confrontation with abstract symbolism.

Akhmatova, also an acmeist, dedicated numerous lyrical poems to him, as well as he to her. The marriage lasted eight stormy years before finally breaking down. After he was declared an enemy of the people and executed by Soviet authorities for opposition to the Bolsheviks, Akhmatova refused to denounce him and helped preserve his poetic legacy. While one of the most famous successors to the Gogolian tradition in Soviet literature, Mikhail Zoshchenko is not well known to foreign readers. He wrote most of his best stories in the s showing how the ideals of the revolution were replaced by petit bourgeois values.

Zoshchenko's stories are vignettes or anecdotes: Even so, Zoshchenko was somewhat a favorite of the Soviet elite who viewed his satire in ideological terms - as a denunciation of "Philistinism" and the "birthmarks of the old world. Stalin signaled a crackdown, and in Zoshchenko was labelled a vulgar and loathsome proponent of non-progressive and apolitical ideas. Along with poet Anna Akhmatova, Zoshchenko was expelled by special decree from the Union of Writers and deprived of his "worker's" ration card. Publishers, journals and theaters began canceling their contracts and demanding that advances be returned.

Censored, arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital, Kharms starved during the siege of Leningrad in , and his writings survived mostly in secret manuscripts, passed from hand to hand. The deliberate undermining of heroic images is in stark contrast with the officially sanctioned grandeur of socialist realist art in the Soviet era.

We put these two writers in one entry because they were coauthors and wrote all their most famous books in collaboration.

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Born in Odessa, the capital of humor in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, they became famous as Soviet kings of irony and adventurous plots. And Coke was another thing they were surprised by. Zinaida Gippius was a prominent and significant Russian poet, prose writer and critic.

Her poetic and cultural influence went hand in hand with her refusal to conform to prescribed notions of femininity. In , after marrying Dmitry Merezhkovsky, who was a significant poet, writer and literary critic, she moved to St. Petersburg from her native Tula. The pair soon became key figures in St. Following the October Revolution in and the subsequent civil war, Gippius and Merezhkovsky joined the exodus of many prominent writers, philosophers and statesmen from Russia, moving to Paris in Merezhkovsky was a son of a privy councilor of Czar Alexander II.

His childhood homes, a palatial dacha on St. Merezhovsky and his wife Zinaida Gippius became increasingly interested in esoteric religion, attempting to create their own church. They were an influential couple, gathering in their Petersburg house many talented poets and writers. He became friends with another exiled writer, Ivan Bunin. Voznesensky is one of the most famous poets of the generation of the s, the so-called Sixtiers. Together with Yevtushenko and Akhmadulina they packed huge halls as people flocked to listen to them read their poetry. Most popular were evenings in the Moscow Polytechnical Museum.

He considered himself a follower of Pasternak's tradition, and his work angered Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who openly criticized the poet and suggested that he leave the country. Since the s Voznesensky was more conformist and was published more frequently. His poems were interpreted into pop-songs in the s. Fet and Tyutchev are frequently studied together in Russian schools. So probably these two poets could have a battle for a place in our rating. He is a romantic poet, and the main themes of his lyrics are nature, love, beauty and art.

He even planned to complete a new translation of the Bible.

Fyodor Tyutchev by S. She stands alone, unique — In Russia, one can only believe. Admiring the sky is one of his main leitmotifs, while another part of his lyrics was devoted to love. Zamyatin was actually Russia's first dystopian writer, and "We" depicts an apparently ideal world where the Single State has suppressed freedom in the name of happiness.

Considering that the revolution was only four years old at this point, Zamyatin was certainly amongst the very first dissidents. Alexey Ivanov from Perm, is one of the most popular and prolific authors in Russia today. Ulitskaya is one of Russia's most influential, intellectual and major contemporary writers. Each of her novels is a long-awaiting event by dozens of critical works. Her most famous novels are "The Kukotsky Enigma," which is about an obstetrician who has a mystical gift; and "Daniel Stein, Interpreter" about a Jew who became a Catholic priest, and which was a bestseller that won Russia's main literary prize, The Big Book.

In her last novel, "Yakov's Ladder," she investigates the story of her grandfather who was exiled in Stalin's times. Ulitskaya is a contemporary liberal dissident who criticizes powerful elites. Please enter recipient e-mail address es. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format. Please re-enter recipient e-mail address es. You may send this item to up to five recipients.

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