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Irina Ratushinskaya

Born in Ukraine in 1954, Irina Ratushinskaya was a leading Russian poet and dissident, who was sentenced in 1983 to seven years' hard labour and five years' internal exile for her poetry, deemed to be 'anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda'. She was unaware that her poems had been smuggled out and published in Britain by Bloodaxe in 1986, and that an international campaign had been mounted on her behalf. Following a series of hunger strikes, she was released in October that year. Initially she and her husband moved to the US, then spent ten years in Britain before returning to Russia in 1998 with their twin sons. In addition to her poetry, she wrote the memoirs Grey is the Colour of Hope (Hodder & Stoughton, 1989) and In the Beginning (Hodder &Stoughton, 1991), as well as the novels The Odessans (1996) and Fictions and Lies (1999). She died of cancer in 2017.

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