Russians mourn science fiction author Strugatsky

MOSCOW Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:11am EST

MOSCOW Nov 20 (Reuters) - Russians ranging from President Vladimir Putin to his critics lamented on Tuesday the death of Boris Strugatsky, a writer who inspired generations with novels that often masked anti-Soviet political satire as science fiction.

Strugatsky, who wrote most of his works alongside his brother Arkady, died at the age of 79 on Monday in his native city of St Petersburg. Arkady Strugatsky died in 1991.

Their best-known novel, "Roadside Picnic", was the basis for director Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Stalker".

Strugatsky's most controversial works were heavily edited by Soviet censors. Some novels, such as "Snail on a Slope", were published in full only after the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, launched his "Glasnost" (openness) reforms.

Although Strugatsky often publicly sided with the anti-Kremlin opposition movement in recent years, the Kremlin said Putin offered condolences to his relatives and called him "a real intellectual authority for many generations".

Writer Boris Akunin, one of the leaders of opposition protests, described Strugatsky as a pessimist who never had any illusions but was always ready to raise his voice against the authorities.

In a blog, Akunin recalled Strugatsky's response to his plea to sign a petition in defence of a jailed lawyer: "Nothing will come of it. This state will never let its jaws unclench. But of course I will sign it". (Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, editing by Paul Casciato)

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