Russian Soviet-era poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko dies at 84

Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko was best known for an epic poem called "Babi Yar" about a Nazi massacre in Kiev

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a Russian Soviet-era poet who found a large following in the West in the 1960s, died on Saturday of heart failure in the United States at the age of 84, Russian news agency RIA Novosti said.

"He died peacefully a few minutes ago, surrounded by his loved ones," the agency quoted his wife, Maria Novikova, as saying.

Yevtushenko shot to fame as a symbol of non-conformism during a brief artistic thaw in the early 1960s under party boss Nikita Khrushchev.

He then became a loyal supporter of the regime, and was showered with state privileges, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

His best-known work is "Babi Yar," an epic poem published in 1961, about a Nazi atrocity in Kiev in 1941 in which tens of thousands of Jews were massacred.

In the mid-1990s, he moved to the United States, where he taught at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.