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Rybakov graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of the Leningrad State University in 1976, mostly focusing on writings about the medieval bureaucracy of China and started. Soon after he studied at the Leningrad branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences Oriental Institute where he was able to publish over 40 thesis papers. While studying at Leningrad, the KGB had gained access to rough drafts of his anti-Soviet novel Trust due to Rybakov sending drafts to friends and classmates. This resulted in the copies being seized by the KGB and a warning. Although the KGB has checked in with Rybakov several years later, Rybakov insisted on writing the final draft of the novel using previous remaining drafts and memory. The novel was later published a decade later. In 1983, Rybakov had met Konstantin Lopushansky to discuss writing the screenplay for his film Dead Man's Letters. The process of developing the film allowed both artists to freely express their visions for the production of the film and further productions further on, this was a stark contrast to Russia's strict censorship rules at the time.
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