Yevtushenko's Visit Disrupted
Prominent Poet Called a `Sell-Out'
Several Soviet emigres disrupted an appearance by prominent Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko last night, attacking his work and accusing him of selling out to the Soviet authorities.
The small demonstration prompted the event's moderator, the curator of the Harvard Film Archive, to cut short Yevtushenko's appearance at the Carpenter Center and escort him from the hall.
At one point, a brief fist fight broke out between two members of the audience in the rear of the Carpenter Center auditorium, where Yevtushenko was addressing a crowd of several hundred.
The poet, who has been a voice of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union, was at Harvard to introduce a screening of his recent film, "The Kindergarten."
The 52-year-old Yevtushenko, whose poems about the Stalin era, anti-Semitism, and other topics made him a popular hero in the 1960s, is accorded special license and privileges by the Soviet authorities, including the freedom to travel to the United States.
He has been criticized in recent years, however, as a mouthpiece rather than a critic of the Soviet establishment.
"Is this an evening to interrogate my honesty? I am fed up with such shameful questions," Yevtushenko angrily declared as members of the audience bombarded him with accusatory questions.
One man, who spoke in a Russian accent but would not identify himself, said as he exited the hall, "Yevtushenko used to be a great poet. Millions of people followed him. But he sold his soul to the authorities."
The disturbance began during a question and answer session when one apparently Russian man called the film "amateurish" and said it "did not produce the whole truth."
"Stick to poetry, not movies," the man said, prompting applause from many members of the audience.
One Harvard student in the audience unsuccessfully attempted to silence the hecklers, asking them to respect his right to hear the discussion.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Bernard Lown, who attended the event, said afterwards that he was "amazed that there are such barbarians in Cambridge."
Yevtushenko, who came to Cambridge from the film's premiere in New York, is tenatively scheduled to return to Boston on Friday for the film's opening at Coolidge Corner.
Yevtushenko recently captured international headlines when he denounced Sylvester Stallone's films, "Rocky IV" and "Rambo: First Blood, Part II" as "warnography." Yevtushenko told a press gathering in the Soviet Union that the films' images of violence toward Soviets undermined friendly relations between the U.S. and the USSR.