Yevgeny Yevtushenko was born in Zima, Irkutsk, on 18th July, 1933. He was the descendant of a family exiled to Siberia. Influenced by the work of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Sergei Yesenin, he began writing poetry and achieved fame with his long narrative poem, Stantsiya Zima (1956). His poem, Baby Yar (1961) dealt with the Nazi massacre of 34,000 Ukrainian Jews. Some critics saw this poem as an attack on Soviet anti-Semitism.
In 1962 the official party newspaper published his poem Heirs of Stalin. The poem describes the burial of Stalin but at the end suggests that the problems are not yet over: "Grimly clenching his embalmed fists, just pretending to be dead, he watched from inside. He was scheming. Had merely dozed off. And I, appealing to our government, petition them to double, and treble, the sentries guarding the slab, and stop Stalin from ever rising again."