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Putin praises dissident writer Solzehnitsyn on centenary

Posted Dec 11, 2018 by AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a statue honouring writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the centenary of his birth Tuesday, hailing as a patriot the dissident whose work was once banned.
A statue of Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn during its unveiling ceremony in Mos...
A statue of Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn during its unveiling ceremony in Moscow on the 100th anniversary of his birth
Alexander Zemlianichenko, POOL/AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a statue honouring writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the centenary of his birth Tuesday, hailing as a patriot the dissident whose work was once banned.

"Even in exile, Solzhenitsyn never permitted malicious talk of his homeland and he opposed any manifestation of Russophobia," Putin said at a ceremony in Moscow.

The unveiling of the statue, which shows the bearded Solzhenitsyn standing with his hands behind his back, was one of a number of events in Moscow to mark the 100-year anniversary of the writer's birth.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's widow Natalia attend the unveilin...
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's widow Natalia attend the unveiling ceremony of a statue of the Russian writer and dissident who Putin said "never permitted malicious talk of his homeland"
Alexander Zemlianichenko, POOL/AFP

The winner of the 1970 Nobel literature prize exposed "the features of a totalitarian system that brought suffering and great hardship to millions of people," Putin said, as Solzhenitsyn's widow Nataliya stood nearby.

"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."

As part of the centenary events, Moscow city hall has produced an app with a "Solzhenitsyn tour" of the capital and a number of theatres are staging productions based on the dissident's work.

Ignat Solzhenitsyn, the writer's US-based son, is back in Russia to conduct an operatic adaptation of his Gulag novella "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" at the Bolshoi.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn  exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1970s  returned to Russia after the coll...
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, returned to Russia after the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s
Alexander Zemlianichenko, POOL/AFP

Solzhenitsyn was exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1970s following the publication of the "Gulag Archipelago", a major expose of the country's labour camps.

He and his family spent most of a two-decade exile in Cavendish, a small town in the US state of Vermont.

He returned to Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and in his later years was supportive of Putin's rule. He died in 2008 at age 89.

Some, however, have accused Putin's government of perpetuating the Soviet Union's persecution of artists.

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov remains in a Russian arctic jail on "terrorism" charges that have been denounced as politically motivated, and celebrated director Kirill Serebrennikov is on trial for embezzlement.

Some have accused Putin's government of perpetuating the Soviet Union's persecution of art...
Some have accused Putin's government of perpetuating the Soviet Union's persecution of artists
Alexey DRUZHININ, SPUTNIK/AFP

Popular rapper Husky was briefly jailed as part of a crackdown that some have compared to the Soviet blacklisting of rock musicians.

Putin has repeatedly expressed nostalgia for the Soviet era and described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.