''Father'' of Russian punk dies in Siberia

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Moscow, Feb 20 (UNI) Egor Letov, known as the ''father'' of the first groups of punk rockers in the former Soviet Union and Russia and a supporter of the banned National Bolshevik Party died in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Letov, 43, died of ''heart failure'' at his home last evening, his official website said, adding ''foul play'' was not suspected.

''We are trying to establish that the cause of death was natural,'' a police spokesman told RIA Novosti.

Letov became notorious in the late 1980s with his group ''Grazhdanskaya Oborona'' (Civil Defence).

Soviet alternative rock was in its heyday at the time, with groups such as the St Petersburg-based Kino and Akvarium performing a unique mixture of Western-influenced, yet distinctly Russian music.

However, Letov's band was unlike anything that Russia had ever heard before.

A hardcore rush of guitars and barked vocals filled with street-punk obscenities, their songs boasted titles such as ''Necrophilia'', ''A guy got killed by a bus'', ''Straight through the hole in my head'', ''Judas will go to heaven,'' and others. One of their most notorious songs ''Rotting in his Mausoleum.'' also referred to Lenin.

The group ''had difficulties'' with Soviet authorities. The band was forbidden to play live, although they often managed to put on concerts and their albums were passed on via badly-recorded cassettes, or magnitizdat, the musical equivalent of the samizdat utilised by banned Soviet writers to get their works to a larger audience.

However, in post-Soviet Union, in typically perverse fashion, Letov suddenly developed a yearning for the Soviet Union and recorded many songs in praise of Soviet life.

He later became a supporter of the National Bolshevik party, the now-banned political movement formed by writer Eduard Limonov.

''He was a fervent revolutionary, committed to an absolutely left-wing viewpoint. He was our impassioned and magnificent comrade,'' Limonov said in his condolence message.

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