Russian outspoken opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya, who left her home country after being forced into exile in 1974, passed away Tuesday, December 11 in Moscow. She's allegedly battling heart disease in the past years. She's 86.
Galina and her cellist husband Mstislav Rostropovich were forced to flee Russia after supporting Nobel prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was very critical of the communist government. They were later stripped off their citizenship.
The soprano eventually settled in the U.S. and continued to perform and direct opera during her exile. She founded the Opera Center in Moscow and formed the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation in Washington D.C. to benefit children in the former Union.
Galina and her hubby regained their citizenship in 1990 during Mikhail Gorbachev's era of perestroika. Before her death, President Vladimir Putin granted her the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland," 1st Class, for her contributions to Russian music and culture.
The president issued condolence Tuesday along with outpouring tributes from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and many other Russian people.
She is survived by her daughters Olga and Elena. Her husband had already died in 2007.