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Radoi Ralin, 81, Bulgarian poet

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Radoi Ralin, a dissident poet whose satires inspired generations of Bulgarians during the country's totalitarian times, died Wednesday of cancer. He was 81.

Born as Dimitar Stoyanov but using a pseudonym, Mr. Ralin wrote several humorous poems and anecdotes of good vs. evil.

One of his most popular books, "Hot Peppers," contained epigrams criticizing the communist regime. Soon after it was published in the mid-1970s, the work was seized from bookstores and destroyed by order of the Communist Party. His witty epigrams satirized the ignorance of the communist rulers and gave Bulgarians trust in the values of freedom, but they also led to a seven-year publishing ban against the author.

He was among a group of Bulgarian intellectuals who met French President Francois Mitterrand during his 1989 visit to Bulgaria at a "dissidents breakfast," one of the signs that preceded the collapse of communism in 1990.

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