Solzhenitsyn Honored by Ex-KGB Thug

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In 1994, Alexander Solzhenitsyn "refused to accept a high state award from then-President Boris Yeltsin, saying he could not accept honors from a leader who brought misery to his people." Reuters reports that the Gulag Archipelago author has apparently reversed position on accepting awards from thuggish ex-party members:

"Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who berated the Soviet Union with searing tales of Stalin's labor camps, was honored by President Vladimir Putin with a state award Tuesday, the Kremlin said.

Solzhenitsyn's wife, Natalya, told Interfax that her husband viewed the award as a sign that his life's work had been noticed. "It gives a certain hope, and Alexander Isayevich would be glad if this hope really was fulfilled in life, hope that our country will learn from the lessons of destroying itself in the 20th century and never repeat it," she said

Solzhenitsyn, a tireless defender of free speech, apparently missed this story.

Cathy Young on Yeltsin's legacy here and the anti-Semitism of Alexander Solzhenitsyn here .

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  1. That’s odd. Yeltsin was certainly no less libertine than Putin.

    Maybe something to do with internal Russian politics?

  2. Solzhenitsyn was a dissident and a great writer, but he shouldn’t be confused with a liberal, or even a democrat. There’s a whole lotta room between Joseph Stalin and George Waashington.

    Putin is a strongman who keeps order and wants to restore Russia’s greatness, whose repressiveness comes up short of the Red Terror, and whose political beliefs reject egalitarianism and libertinism. He’s also willing to indulge more than a little anti-semitism among his allies, and has incorporated the heirarchy of both the Russian Orthodox Church and the military into his ruling circle. Of course Solzhenitsyn likes him.

    All those stories about SRs and Old Bolsheviks in the camps, pleading that their revolutionary status should protect them from the fate rightfully meted out to the “reactionaries,” “wreckers,” and “counter-revolutionaries” in their barracks, should be enough to convince you that being sent to the gulag doesn’t make you a liberal democrat.

  3. Of course his wife is named Natalya. That’s hot!

  4. What joe said. Basically, Solzhenitsyn is a monarchist. Since all the Tsars are dead, he’ll take Putin, who is as close as they are going to get nowadays.

    I still love Ivan Denisovich, though.

  5. OT:

    Can I use this short thread to request an Urkobold taint-chop for anyone who starts any comment in any thread with:

    “I would argue…”
    “My question would be…”
    OR
    “Then I would ask…”

    Debate is not hypothetical. Assert yourself or dismiss yourself.

    Thank you. That is all.

    END OT

  6. I would argue that debate can, in fact, be hypothetical…

  7. And thus I am defeated…

  8. DDS:

    If that link is really your email address, you are now among my heroes of cleverness.

  9. yup. it’s real.

  10. In 1978 I read the Gulag Archipelago, while studying in Europe. it was a gift from my mother. I visited East Berlin that summer. I had already read August 1914 so I knew Solzhenitsyn to be a nostalgic nationalist of sorts. Nonetheless, Gulag and that visit to the DDR worker’s paradise changed my life. We should always be careful to separate the man from the masterpiece. I find Grossman’s Life and Fate, though, superior to Gulag, and that is saying quite a bit.
    John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., CGSC, Kansas

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