August 4, 2008

Russian Public Figures Pay Tribute to Solzhenitsyn

Various figures of Russian political and public life have paid tribute to Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who died late on 3 August, Russian news agency Interfax reported on 4 August.

Solzhenitsyn is a man of unique and tragic fate, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has said, as reported Russian Ekho Moskvy radio.

Gorbachev said: "There are few people who can be compared to him in terms of what he has done in his life. He overcame all trial and hardships. He was one of the first who raised his voice against the system, against Stalin's regime and in defence of people who had fallen victims to it. His books, '[One Day in the Life of] Ivan Denisovich', 'Gulag [Archipelago]' have helped people to see what this regime really was. This is why we should be grateful to Aleksandr Isayevich for his outstanding contribution to the fight against this regime, for our country to become free and democratic."

Arseniy Roginskiy, head of the human rights NGO Memorial, stressed the writer's contribution to the rehabilitation of victims of political repression, as reported by Interfax at 0526 gmt. "This is a huge blow to Russia, a blow to each of us. We have grown under the sign of Solzhenitsyn. The public movement, involved in the rehabilitation of victims to repression, would not have existed without his works," he told Interfax.

"Everyone draws their own lessons from Solzhenitsyn. For me his courage to look into the past, his understanding that it is impossible to build up one's future without realizing the lessons of the past, was always very important," he added.

"Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn always said what he thought, without caring about the consequences, without caring how the authorities would react. He was not afraid to be alone," Roginksiy stressed.

Solzhenitsyn's works have caused an upheaval in the intellectual consciousness, historian and writer Roy Medvedev said, as quoted by Interfax at 0528 gmt

"In my life his novel 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich', published in 1962, caused quite an upheaval. But a turnover in the thoughts and opinions occurred not only in my head but also in the whole intellectual world. Writers, workers of science, the arts and representatives of intelligentsia started looking at the surrounding world without rose-coloured spectacles," Medvedev said.

"We often disagreed, we argued, moreover, at times he criticized me as I was an advocate of socialism. This did not prevent us from cooperating and seeing each other often. Certainly, I will never forget that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped me have my brother Zhores released from a 'lunatic asylum'. The report about his death was a shock to me," he said.

Sources: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0526,0535 gmt 4 Aug 08; Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0700 gmt 4 Aug 08

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