MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Legendary Soviet-era children's writer and poet Sergei Mikhalkov, who died Thursday at the age of 96, is to be buried with full military honors on Saturday at the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow, a RIA Novosti correspondent said.
The funeral mass, attended by government officials, friends and family members, was held at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow. The funeral cortege is making its way to the Novodevichye Cemetery where Mikhalkov, who penned the lyrics to the Soviet and modern Russian national anthems, is to buried.
Mikhalkov became popular in the 1930s, especially as the author of children's poetry about giant Uncle Styopa.
In 1943, at the height of World War II, Joseph Stalin commissioned a new anthem, with the lyrics to be written by Mikhalkov. The poet along with war correspondent Ureklyan worked on the words, to music by Alexander Alexandrov, and the anthem was first performed in January 1944.
Mikhalkov altered the initial lyrics, which mentioned Stalin's name, in the 1970s. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the anthem was briefly abolished by President Boris Yeltsin but restored under President Vladimir Putin. A new version of Russia's national anthem was officially adopted in 2001, after Mikhalkov was picked once again to write new lyrics to Alexandrov's music.
Mikhalkov was also the author of satirical plays and Soviet movie scripts.
In present-day Russia, Mikhalkov is better known as the father of two leading film makers - Nikita Mikhalkov and Oscar-winning Andrei Konchalovsky.
On his 90th birthday in 2003, Putin visited Mikhalkov at his home, decorating him with an Order for Service to the Fatherland and recognizing his contributions to Russian culture. During the Soviet era, Mikhalkov received a series of major awards, and the highly prestigious Stalin prizes.
Apart from his two sons, Mikhalkov is survived by his wife, 10 grandchildren and several great grandchildren.