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Late Author Another in Series : Political Rehabilitation OKd for Soviet Novelist

Times Staff Writer

A year and a half after his death in exile, the Soviet novelist Viktor P. Nekrasov was politically rehabilitated Thursday and readmitted posthumously to the Ukrainian Writers Union.

Nekrasov, one of the leading Soviet writers of his generation, was the latest in a series of exiled authors, artists, musicians and other members of the Soviet intelligentsia to be restored to honor here as part of the liberalization under President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

He was forced into exile in France 15 years ago for defying the political and cultural restrictions of the Brezhnev Era and for denouncing the deportation of Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize winner, in early 1974.

Correcting an Injustice

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Yuri Mushketik, first secretary of the Ukrainian Writers Union, said the rehabilitation of Nekrasov was intended not only to correct an injustice but also to contribute to the continuing political reforms in the country.

The union said it will ask for the early re-publication of Nekrasov’s books, which were printed here in 120 editions and millions of copies when he was exiled but which have been virtually impossible to find, even in libraries, since then.

His first novel, “In the Trenches of Stalingrad,” was regarded as the country’s best World War II novel because of the candor and realism with which it portrays the war as seen by foot soldiers and their officers. Nekrasov, who was trained as an architect, served as deputy commander of a construction battalion during the war and fought at Stalingrad.

He came under increasing criticism in the 1960s and 1970s as he dealt with characteristic honesty in his writings with the country’s social problems, including the return of political prisoners from the labor camps of the Stalinist Era. He was criticized personally by Nikita S. Khrushchev and later by Leonid I. Brezhnev, the Soviet leaders who succeeded the dictator Josef Stalin, as “unpleasant” and “pseudo-realistic.”

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As Nekrasov’s writings became more pointed and restrictions on literary and artistic expression increased under Brezhnev, many of his short stories, essays and travelogues circulated largely in samizdat form--smudged, typewritten carbon copies on thin paper, whichdissidents used to circulate clandestinely.

Although a Communist Party member since 1944, Nekrasov had made clear his political stance in 1959 by successfully protesting a government plan to build a recreation facility at Babi Yar, the ravine outside Kiev where tens of thousands of Jews were slaughtered by German troops during the war. When he refused to bow to the authorities, he came under mounting pressure from both the party, which expelled him in 1973, and then from the KGB, the Soviet security police, which forced him into exile the following year.

Born in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in 1911, Nekrasov died on Sept. 3, 1987, in Paris, where he had been living, writing and editing the expatriate Russian-language literary journal Kontinent.


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