August 4, 2008

Contradictory Assessment of Russian Writer’s Life Offered – Agencies

Russian political and public figures have offered their reaction to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's death, Russian news agencies reported on 4 August.

The leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennadiy Zyuganov expressed his regret that the reformers of the 1990s did not listen to Solzhenitsyn's advice, Interfax report said.

"A most talented man with a very complicated fate has died. The epoch of those who prepared perestroika, those who were forerunners of ensuing processes that destroyed and ruined a great country, is disappearing with him," Zyuganov told Interfax.

He stressed that Solzhenitsyn "sincerely wanted to see Russia strong and rich, but it emerged that he was absolutely not wanted by the time of so-called democratic reforms".

"Having travelled across the whole country from the Far East to Moscow in the early 1990s, Solzhenitsyn saw the discord and shame, saw an impoverished country and tried to influence the authorities, but the authorities did not need him," Zyuganov said.

Meanwhile, he believes that Solzhenitsyn's assessment of the events of the earlier Soviet period was not always objective. "I think that in his assessment of the Soviet power he was extremely biased and one-sided. Naturally, his own personal tragedies affected this assessment, but one must not transfer one's personal misfortunes and hardships to the life and deeds of the whole nation, to the creative potential of the whole great country," Zyuganov said.

RIA Novosti quoted human rights champion Lev Ponomarev, the leader of the movement For Human Rights, who said that modern opposition members should take Solzhenitsyn for a model.

"They should by all means take the cue from him. Thank God, our regime is not that tough. From my point of view, it is not democratic, our opposition is suppressed, and by administrative means among others, but the level of freedom is much higher now than it used to be in the Soviet times," Ponomarev told RIA Novosti news agency. "Much more will and courage was necessary for resistance in the Soviet times," he added.

"He has proved that one can resist a regime and survive. He was fortunate, of course, due to various circumstances and due to his own will," Ponomarev said. The writer's second deed was his book "GULAG Archipelago", Ponomarev believed.

"This is not just a literary work, but this monitoring of crimes of the totalitarian regime, a piece of academic research. Solzhenitsyn exposed the regime for the Soviet society as well as for the whole world," Ponomarev said.

Originally published by Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0915 4 Aug 08.

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