August 4, 2008

Former Ukrainian Dissidents Comment on Solzhenitsyn’s Life, Work

Excerpt from report by private One Plus One TV on 4 August:

[Presenter] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer and Nobel Prize winner, died last night. He died at his house in Moscow on the 90th year.

[Passage omitted: biographical details]

[Semen Hluzman, captioned as former dissident, in Russian] For me, Solzhenitsyn is an entire epoch. The epoch of my youth. In that epoch, Solzhenitsyn perhaps played the dominant role because in order to make little steps if was necessary to have some exemplar of courage.

[Correspondent] His fame began with his first story "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", which was printed in Noviy Mir [magazine].

[Yevhen Sverstyuk, captioned as former dissident] The attention of the world public was focused on the USSR. And suddenly a brave voice appeared in the USSR that spoke the truth.

[Correspondent] In relation to Ukraine, there were two Solzhenitsyns. One was positive before his exile; the other aggressive after it.

[Levko Lukyanenko, captioned as former dissident] He turned out to have been an informer for 20 years. He denounced several people to the KGB and those people were shot. But that only became known later. In that period, we saw him as our ally in the struggle for democracy.

[Sverstyuk] Solzhenitsyn was a great figure for us before his exile, but his greatness declined considerably after the exile. From the great problems for all humanity of the time he descended to great-power problems and became of little interest.

[Correspondent] Despite this, Ukrainian dissidents hope that it is not the controversial essays of recent years but the example of courageous opposition to the system that will remain in history.

[Hluzman] I believe that if there had been no Solzhenitsyn and if there had been no [Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist Andrey] Sakharov, who was more soft, tolerant and democratic, Ukraine's independence would either have come much later or would not have come at all.

[Passage omitted: details of death]

[At 1545 gmt on 4 August, the private ICTV channel also showed Sverstyuk commenting: "For us Ukrainians Solzhenitsyn was an attractive figure also because he was the first to present a banderivets (member of the anti-Soviet Ukranian Insurgent Army) in a positive light in his "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" published in Noviy Den. This was unheard of in the Soviet press."]

Originally published by One Plus One TV, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1630 4 Aug 08.

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