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Russian writer Aksyonov dies aged 76: reports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian writer Vasily Aksyonov, best known for his novels critical of the Soviet system, died in Moscow on Monday aged 76, Russian news agencies said.

Aksyonov was among a group of Soviet writers who emerged during a period of experimentation in the 1960s and 1970s after the end of dictator Josef Stalin's 'Socialist Realism,' which had enforced a strictly conformist style.

Best known for his novels The Burn and Generations of Winter, he was forced into exiled in 1980 after he was deemed to be anti-Soviet for his writings which criticized the regime.

He lived in the United States until 2004.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Aksyonov's death was a "huge irretrievable loss for Russian literature," and described him in a statement a "bright, brave and freedom-loving writer."

Aksyonov had been in hospital since January 2008 after suffering a stroke while driving his car.

(Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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