The Belarusian author of The Khatyn Story and The Blockade Book, he also wrote several screenplays, including Come and See and Franz + Polina. He became known for his humanist and anti-war stances.
He studied philosophy at the Belarusian State University.
He was awarded the 1976 Yakub Kolas Belarus State prize in literature for The Khatyn Story.
He was born in Hlusha Minsk Voblast, Belarus, and he later settled in Moscow, Russia with his wife Glasha.
He and Suleyman Rustam were both members of the Supreme Soviet.