December 13, 2010
Is punk novelist Limonev Vladimir Putin's worst nightmare?
by Dennis Johnson
He was a New York punk in the 1970s, then an “incidiary” novelist … on his way to succeeding Vladimir Putin as leader of Russia? As Marc Bennetts explains of Eduard Limonov in an interview for the Observer:
An avant-garde poet forced out of the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s after refusing to inform for the KGB, Limonov ended up in New York, where he hung out with the Ramones and Richard Hell & the Voidoids at the legendary CBGB punk club. “In New York I found the same kind of people – non-conformists, painters, poets, crazy underground musicians – that I had left in Moscow. I even wore Richard Hell’s ripped T-shirt for a long time,” he recalls, when I ask him about his punk past. “I still listen to that music, of course. Everyone likes to hear the music of their youth.”
But he laughs away the suggestion that punk has influenced his confrontational political philosophies and strategies. “I am wiser now, I have matured – and anyway, how can one be a punk after 60? That would be silly.”
But having returned to Russia and dodged imprisonment on trumped up charges, Limonev is now working toward running for president in 2012, when Putin is expected to seek a third term. Explains Bennetts,
Limonov may insist that his pogo-ing days are far behind him, but when I ask him if he believes he has a real chance of becoming president there is something distinctly punk rock about his answer. “I have a chance to become a conflict,” he tells me, staring out at the impressively urban south Moscow skyline.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives