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Alexander Bovin, 74, died of a vascular spasm in the small hours today
The sad news reached Novosti from the editorial board of the Izvestia daily, where the classic of Soviet journalism was staff writer for more than twenty years. He was speechwriter for Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov-two Soviet leaders totally unlike each other. He was Soviet Ambassador to Israel as bilateral diplomatic relations were reinstated after a twenty-year break. He coped with the tremendous challenge to restore the two nations' mutual confidence. He made an excellent dean of the Moscow-based Humanitarian University school of journalism. Millions of Soviet men and women knew Bovin, however, as International Panorama anchor. His programme was a slit in the Iron Curtain, giving grateful television audiences a glimpse of other countries. Resembling Balzac in face and stature, even his appearance was profoundly original in the Soviet era, with its cut-to-measure officials. "Many regard Alexander Bovin as outstanding diplomat and political activist-yet he was a journalist, above all. He had an opinion all his own about whatever was on in this country and in the world," says Vsevolod Bogdanov, Russian Journalists' Union president. "He was a man larger-than-life, a law unto himself. No one could stay indifferent to him, and no one could influence his independent mind and conduct. He was always outspoken," says Georgi Stepanov, Izvestia foreign political analyst. Soviet Communist Party Central Committee functionary, Bovin received an employment with Izvestia as a kind of honourable banishment, recollects Vladimir Kondrashov, his close friend and another top-notch Izvestia contributor. Bovin's colleagues and admirers of his pen valued his outstanding erudition, analytical mind, ironical self-appreciation, and subtle humour. "Our time differed from the present beyond recognition. At that time, he was an oppositionist within the Establishment. He took up journalism rather late in life-and at once made an inimitable writer," says Kondrashov. Brimming with energy, with a vast range of interests, Alexander Bovin was changing professions one after another. Expert ideologist on the all-powerful Communist Party top, he switched to journalism, then took up diplomacy, and came back to journalism again. He had a dramatic old age, almost unable to walk. Radical knee surgery was of small help. "A sprightly man, he was armchair-ridden, retaining his quick and dynamic mind. When he came back to the Izvestia staff, privatisation was in full swing, and the paper was shifting to stockholding arrangements. The fuss about it harassed us veterans. True, Bovin was still appearing on the air-but his old enthusiastic audiences were gone. He outlived his own popularity," sighs Kondrashov.
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