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Arkady Arkanov

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 12 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2103
  1. Boleslav Lichterman, Moscow
  1. lichterman{at}

Soviet GP who became a writer, stand-up comedian, TV anchor, and satirist

Arkady Mikhailovich Shteinbok (“Arkanov” was his pen name) was born in Kiev but moved to Moscow with his family in 1938. He graduated from high school with a silver medal in 1951, and became a student of First Moscow Medical Institute (now the IM Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University).

In his memoirs Vpered v proshloe [“Forward to the Past”] Arkanov recalls the antisemitism of that time, when Jews were barred from many prestigious universities. It was relatively easy, however, to enter medical school—especially if you were interested in sports (Arkanov excelled at chess—considered a sport in Russia—and shooting). He participated in students’ kapustniki [comedy and revue sketches] throughout his studies. In 1957 the medical students’ theatre was awarded a silver medal at the first world festival of youth and students in Moscow. Arkanov married Maya Kristalinskaya, the festival laureate, who became a famous singer—but they divorced the following year.

On graduating Arkanov was obliged to work for three years as a district physician in an outpatient clinic in Moscow, where he faced the realities of …

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