Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- In Russia, a poet is more than a
poet. The strong feelings revealed in a recent national argument
over two bards -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko, long emigrated to the
U.S., and Joseph Brodsky, who died in 1996 -- might even help
explain how the regime of President Vladimir Putin is able to
maintain its grip on power.
In late October, government-run Channel One television
departed from its usual fare of cheap entertainment and fawning
Putin coverage to air something truly surprising: an in-depth,
three-part interview with the 80-year-old Yevtushenko. The
program attracted between 12.6 percent and 17.2 percent of all
television viewers, according to the RIA Novosti news service --
a very high share for the late-night time slot in which the
interview was shown.