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LIMONOV, Eduard Veniaminovich

Writer and Leader of the National Bolshevik Party, Member of the Other Russia Coalition Eduard Limonov 07/22/2010

Eduard Limonov (Эдуард Лимонов) was born Eduard Veniaminovich Savenko (Эдуард Вениаминович Савенко) in the city of Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod region, on February 22, 1943.

Rising to fame as a Russian emigre writer, he returned to Russia to found and lead the nationalist National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Limonov is also a prominent member of The Other Russia, a coalition established to unite the Russian opposition against the current government. 

Having spent most of his childhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Limonov moved to Moscow in the early 1970s, where he pursued a career as a poet.


Limonov was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and moved to New York. There he met the trendsetters of the burgeoning New York punk scene.

In the mid 1970s he worked as a proof-reader at the New York based newspaper New Russian Word (Новое русское слово) He also wrote anti-capitalist articles for Russian emigre newspapers and had close links to the US Socialist Workers’ Party. During his time in America, Limonov also wrote a number of novels.

Limonov’s article entitled “Disappointment” was published in New Russian Word in 1974. Dealing with the disillusionment felt by many Russian exiles it was re-published in Moscow newspaper the Week (Неделя) in 1976, and Limonov was sacked from New Russian Word.

In 1982 Limonov moved to Paris. There he became closely involved with the French Communist Party, writing for their publications as well as continuing to work on novels. He was granted French citizenship in 1987.

Return to Russia

After Mikhail Gorbachev restored Limonov’s Soviet citizenship, in the early 1990s he returned to the country of his birth. In 1991 he entered politics, founding the newspaper Limonka, and the NBP. The NBP is not officially recognized as a political party in Russia, but it remains an active member of the opposition.  In 1996 Limonka was found guilty of disseminating illegal and immoral information and issued with an official warning. Limonov had published articles which accused certain ethnic groups, including Croatians, Chechens and Latvians of being inherently bad and collectively responsible for crimes against Russia.

Member of the opposition

In the late 2000s Limonov has emerged as one of the most high profile members of the opposition to Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin’s government. In March 2007 he led members of the NBP, which joined other opposition figures from across the political spectrum in the Dissenters’ March. The event took place in St Petersburg and was organized in protest at both federal government and St Petersburg Mayor Valentina Matviyenko’s policies. Limonov was arrested and although released, was again arrested the following month after an opposition rally in Moscow.    

Limonov is a key participant of the opposition movement Strategy 31. Based on the fact that it is Article 31 of the Russian constitution that guarantees freedom of assembly, the group meets on the 31st day of every month, which has 31 days, to protest against the current government. Despite the continuing failure to secure the necessary approval from the Moscow Mayor’s office, the protests are continuing, with many activists arrested at each event.

Since March 2009, Limonov has declared his intention to run in presidential elections in 2012. He has said that he expects the results of this election to be rigged, in which case he will mount a legal appeal.

Political activity outside Russia

Limonov has also backed a number of political causes outside Russia, supporting Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s as well as Abkhaz and Transdnistran separatists.

In 2000 Limonov supported armed NBP members who stormed St Peter’s Church in Riga to protest against treatment of the ethnic Russian minority in Latvia.

During the Bosnian war, Limonov supported Serbia. The BBC screened footage of Limonov alongside Serb President Radovan Karadzic firing at the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital Sarajevo.

Limonov was arrested and charged in 2001, over the illegal purchase of arms, as part of a plot to invade Kazakhstan. At his trial, other high profile politicians such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexei Mitrofanov appealed for charges to be dropped, arguing that they were politically motivated. Nevertheless he was sentenced to four years for purchasing arms. He was released on good behaviour having served only two years of his sentence.

Personal life

Limonov has been married four times. His first wife was the artist Anna Moiseevna Rubinstein. In 1973 he married poet Elena Shchapova, moving to the USA with her in 1974. He married model, singer and writer Natalya Medvedeva in 1983 and lived with her for 13 years. They never officially divorced and Medvedeva died in 2003. Limonov has two children with his current wife, Ekaterina Volkova.

Selected bibliography

The Diary of a Loser (Дневник неудачника) 1982
The Teenage Savenko (Подросток Савенко) 1983
A Foreigner in an Unknown Town (Чужой в незнакомом городе) 1985
A Young Scoundrel ( Молодой Нeгодяй) 1986
Палач 1986
‘Napoleon’ Brandy (Коньяк „Наполеон) 1990
We had a great epoch (У нас была великая эпоха) 1992
The death of Modern Heroes (Смерть современных героев) 1992 

Disappearance of Barbarians (Исчезновение варваров) 1993
Убийство часового 1993
Limonov vs. Zhirinovsky (Лимонов против Жириновского) 1994
Укрощение тигра в Париже 1994  

Мой отрицательный герой. Стихи 1976—1982 годов 1995
Anatomy of a Hero (Анатомия героя) 1997
The Book of the Dead (Книга мёртвых) 2001
Охота на Быкова: расследование Эдуарда Лимонова 2001
The Book of Water (Книга воды) 2002
Imprisoned by Dead Men (В плену у мертвецов) 2002
American Vacation (Американские каникулы ) 2002
The Great Mother of Love (Великая мать любви) 2002
My Political Biography (Моя политическая биография) 2002
Дисциплинарный санаторий 2002
316, пункт „В“ 2003
Русское. Стихотворения   2003
His Butler's Story (История его слуги) 2003
The Wild Girl (Девочка-Зверь) 2003
The Other Russia (Другая Россия) 2003
Russian Psycho (Русское психо) 2003
Control Shot (Контрольный выстрел) 2003
The Holy Monsters (Священные монстры ) 2004
По тюрьмам 2004
Торжество метафизики 2005
Настя и Наташа 2005
Бутырская-Сортировочная или Смерть в автозэке 2005
Ноль часов 2006
Limonov vs. Putin (Лимонов против Путина) 2006
Иностранец в смутное время 2007
Ереси 2008
Эдуард Лимонов Дети гламурного рая: О моде, стиле и путешествиях 2008
The Last Days of Superman (Последние дни супермена) 2008
Мальчик, беги 2009
Некрологи. Книга мёртвых-2 2010
А старый пират… 2010

Related links:

Eduard Limonov's blog

The National Bolshevik Party Web site

The Other Russia Web site

Eduard Limonov's 2012 Presidential Bid Web site

Monumental Foolishness (02/20/2003 Slate)

A Soviet Emigre's New York Remembered (08/19/2003 New York Press)

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