Russian anthem writer Mikhalkov dies

Mikhalkov, an author who was favoured by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, died in a Moscow hospital on Thursday (27Aug09).

He also fathered two noted film directors, Academy Award winner Nikita Mikhalkov and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky.

Stalin commissioned the former war correspondent to write lyrics for a new Soviet anthem in 1943, during World War II.

Mikhalkov’s lyrics, co-written with journalist El Registan, were and set to music by Alexander Alexandrov, and celebrated the dictator who he wrote, “inspired us to labour and to heroism.”

The Russian government scrapped the anthem after the Soviet collapse in 1991, replacing it with an instrumental piece by 19th-century Russian composer Mikhail Glinka. However, when Vladimir Putin became Russian president in 2000, he restored the old anthem and Mikhalkov revised the text.

In 2005, Putin personally handed Mikhalkov a state award for “literary and social achievements”.

Mikhalkov received numerous state awards for his children’s books, film scripts, plays and fiction, including his 1935 children’s poem Uncle Styopa, which is still taught in Russian kindergartens and primary schools.

In addition to his sons, Mikhalkov is survived by his wife Yulia Subbotina, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren