Putin salutes Solzhenitsyn as ‘true patriot’ who would not abide Russophobia

by WorldTribune Staff, December 11, 2018

Late Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a “true and real patriot” who even in exile “did not allow anyone to talk dismissively and badly about his motherland,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 11.

“He stood up against any expression of Russophobia,” Putin said after unveiling a statue in central Moscow honoring the Nobel Prize-winning author on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Russian President Vladimir Putin places a wreath on the newly-unveiled statue of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Designed by sculptor Andrey Kovalchuk, the monument was installed in Moscow’s Tagansky District on the street that bears Solzhenitsyn’s name. / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

The term “Russophobia” has been used by Russian officials and state-run media for several years to obscure criticism of the Kremlin’s policies, Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe noted in a report on the ceremony.

Solzhenitsyn, whose works including “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich” and “The Gulag Archipelago”, spent many years in the Soviet gulag prison system.

He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and lived in the United States for decades before returning to Russia in 1994. The 1970 Nobel Literature laureate died in Moscow in 2008 at the age of 89.

Putin, a former KGB agent, said Solzhenitsyn exposed “the features of a totalitarian system that brought suffering and great hardship to millions of people. The most important thing is that Solzhenitsyn’s voice continues to ring out, that his thoughts and ideas resound in people’s hearts and minds.”

Solzhenitsyn’s widow Natalia said at the ceremony: “People are still killing each other, keep each other in poverty, famine, in different heavy conditions and therefore the day of Ivan Denisovich has not ended yet.”

“And we have to remember about it, to look around us with open eyes, and to provide help to Ivan Denisovich if he needs it,” she said, referring to Solzhenitsyn’s book describing an inmate’s day in the gulag.

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