LONDON (Apr. 29)
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the young Soviet poet who attracted worldwide attention for his poem, Babi Yar, told a press conference here today that the meaning of the poem has been misunderstood in the West, which had hailed it as a denunciation of continuing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. He came here Friday for a two-week visit under the Anglo-Soviet cultural exchange pact.
"I wanted to show that anti-Semitism has no relationship to the spirit of the Russian people," he said. "I am a nationalist and I do believe that nationalists are good people. To me, the world is divided into two nations, the good people and the bad people, no other division. I wanted to show in the poem that anti-Semites in old Russia were not representative of the true Russian spirit."
Babi Yar is the name of the gully in which the Nazis, then in occupation of Kiev, dumped the bodies of more than 40, 000 Jewish men, women and children into a mass grave after slaughtering them. The Soviet Government has never permitted the erection of any monument to indicate the monstrous Nazi crime against the Jews which took place there.