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1,300 people join marathon reading of ‘War and Peace’ live on Russian TV

A massive public reading of Leo Tolstoy’s iconic novel “War and Peace” is now in its third day, with more than 1,300 people participating from more than 30 cities.

Russian state television is broadcasting the four-day reading, which kicked off Tuesday and is expected to conclude on Friday. It is also streaming online.

Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya coordinated the participants, who are each reading a two to three-minute passage of the novel’s more than half a million words from schools, museums, libraries and other locations around the world.

Readers include Polish film director and Oscar winner Andrzej Wajda, Bolshoi Ballet director Vladimir Urin and Russian politician Valentina Matvienko. Cosmonaut Sergei Volkov contributed a reading from the International Space Station, and French readers were coordinated to read the book’s French sections.

A group of Tolstoy’s descendants filmed a reading from Yasnaya Polyana, the estate where he wrote the book, and other members of the Tolstoy family are joining in from the U.S., Britain, Brazil and France.

But readers also include general members of the public, more than 6,000 of whom applied to participate, according to Tolstaya. She told The Guardian that the reading would “unite” hundreds of people around the world. “It is very democratic: we can have a minister of culture reading next to a student from Vladivostok, a great actor then an old lady reading from a library in Siberia,” she said.

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