On April 1, 2017 passed away the great Russian poet Evgeny Evtushenko.  I am deeply mourning and very conscious of how accurate were his words written in 1965: “The poet in Russia is more than a poet”.

It is a bitter loss. Unfortunately, the number of my friends – poets of the 1960-s who were forerunners and symbols of the “thaw” is narrowing. No longer with us are Bella Akhmadulina, Andrey Voznesensky, Bulat Okudzhava, Robert Rozhdestvensky and now Evgeny Evtushenko. I have been lucky not only to know Evgeny, but to live next door to him. He was my close neighbor in the cottage village of Gulripsh in Abkhazia and in Peredelkino I lived not far from his house. For many years we have been good friends and worked together. Talented people are talented in everything. I have admired his brilliant ability and virtuosity with which he possessed the Art of the Word. His verses sound like music, they are multi-colored and so metaphorical, that I could easily imagine them in colors.

One of my last meetings with Evgeny Evtushenko happened in Tver. Andrey Dementiev, Valentina Tereshkova, Joseph Kobzon and me unveiled the monument to poets of the 1960-s and the Tver House of Poetry. Then Evgeny read his verses:
     Who were we the poets of the 1960-s?  
     On the crest of the great wave of foam
     In the twentieth century
     Like marines
     Of the twenty first.

Evgeny Evtushenko has been an extraordinary and charismatic personality. Extremely gifted he was trusted and loved by people, he generously shared his unique talent with all of us. For me as an artist, he became a synonym of inner freedom and optimism. He was a true friend and will forever remain in my memory as a handsome, young and very good man and Great Poet.

Zurab Tsereteli

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