MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian punks were in mourning on Wednesday as police prepared to announce the official cause of death of Egor Letov, the leader of one of the Soviet Union's first punk groups and a supporter of the banned National Bolshevik Party.
Letov, who was 43, died at his home in the Siberian city of Omsk on Tuesday evening. His official website said he had passed away from "heart failure." Foul play is not suspected.
"We are attempting to establish that the cause of death was natural," a police spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Egor Letov gained notoriety in the late 1980s with his group 'Grazhdanskaya Oborona," or "Civil Defense." Soviet alternative rock was in its heyday at the time, with groups such as the St. Petersburg-based Kino and Akvarium performing a unique mixture of Western-influenced, yet distinctly Russian music.
However, Letov's band was unlike anything that Russia had ever heard before. A hardcore rush of guitars and barked vocals filled with street-punk obscenities, their songs boasted titles such as 'Necrophilia,' 'A guy got killed by a bus,' 'Straight through the hole in my head,' 'Judas will go to heaven,' and others, with one of their most notorious songs referring to Lenin "rotting in his mausoleum."
Not surprisingly, as Letov put it himself, the group "had difficulties" with Soviet authorities. The band was forbidden to play live, although they often managed to put on concerts, and their albums were passed on via badly-recorded cassettes, or magnitizdat, the musical equivalent of the samizdat utilized by banned Soviet writers to get their works to a larger audience.
Post-U.S.S.R., in typically perverse fashion, Letov suddenly developed a yearning for the Soviet Union, and recorded many songs in praise of Soviet life.
He later became a supporter of the National Bolshevik party, the now-banned political movement formed by writer Eduard Limonov.
Limonov had this to say about Letov after news of the punk musician's death broke: "He was a fervent revolutionary, committed to an absolutely left-wing viewpoint. He was our impassioned and magnificent comrade."