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Dmitry Bykov

Image of Dmitry Bykov

Russian Writer, Poet and Journalist

Being one of the most prolific modern Russian writers, in recent years he has gained additional recognition for his biography of Boris Pasternak, published in 2005. The biography earned Bykov the 2006 National Bestseller (Национальный бестселлер) and Big Book (Большая Книга) awards. He later wrote biographies of Maxim Gorky and Bulat Okudzhava.

Bykov graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of the Moscow State University. Dmitry Bykov taught literature and the history of Soviet literature in Moscow's secondary schools. He was a professor at the Department of World Literature and Culture of MGIMO. As a journalist and critic, Bykov has been writing for the magazine Ogoniok since 1993. He has also periodically hosted a show on the radio station Echo of Moscow, which ran until 2008. Earlier, he was one of the hosts of an influential TV show Vremechko.

In 2008 a documentary called Virginity (Девственность) was released in which Bykov was a co-writer.

In 2009, Bykov was named assistant editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Profile. He is also the editor-in-chief of the monthly literature-focused magazine What to Read (Что читать).

Together with actor Mikhail Yefremov, he created project "Citizen Poet" (a pun on Nikolai Nekrasov's poem "Poet and Citizen"). Yefremov reads poems, written by Bykov, which are usually satirical comments on the contemporary Russian society, politics and culture. Each poems parodies the style of a famous poet of the past, e.g. Pushkin, Nekrasov, Kipling, among others. It was originally broadcast on Dozhd TV channel, but the project was closed because the poems were too critical towards Russian government. Currently, the show is hosted in audio format by Echo of Moscow radio station.

In mid-April 2019, while aboard a domestic flight en route to Ufa, Bykov fainted and was hospitalized upon arrival. Initially, Russian media covered the story regarding Bykov's health status in different ways. Reports that he suffered a stroke were denied by Bykov’s friend Alexey Venediktov. Instead, Ekho Moskvy reported that a chronic illness was responsible for Bykov’s condition which was specified by online portal Otkrytye Media as being diabetes, and Bykov suffering from a hyperglycemic crisis. In addition, a source told RIA Novosti that Bykov had experienced severe circulatory failures in his brain.

In the following week, on 25 April, Bykov denied, however, having diabetes. After the doctors at the hospital in Ufa had told him that they couldn't find the cause of his illness, he instead came to the conclusion that the reason for his hospitalization in Ufa was poisoning. In early September 2020, Aric Toler, director of research and training at Bellingcat suspected that a nerve poison was used. The possible poisoning of Bykov by Russian government agents was reportedly investigated, along with other similar cases, by Christo Grozev of Bellingcat. Bellingcat describes a "striking resemblance" between the poisoning of Bykov and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Additional Information



  • Faculty
  • IES Visiting Scholar