Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, nobel laureate accuses US, NATO of encircling Russia - 2007


Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, nobel laureate accuses US, NATO of encircling Russia



2007

Nobel laureate and former Soviet dissident, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, in a newspaper interview accused the United States and NATO of seeking to encircle Russia, and praised President Vladimir Putin for working to restore a strong state. In a rare interview, the reclusive 87-year-old author, who rose to prominence for his accounts of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's repression and labour camps, told the liberal weekly 'Moscow News' that NATO's ultimate aim was the loss of Russia's sovereignty, according to a full text of the interview posted on its web site edition on Thursday. "Though it is clear that present-day Russia poses no threat to it, NATO is methodically and persistently building up its military machine - into the east of Europe and surrounding Russia from the south," Solzhenitsyn was quoted as saying. "This involves open material and ideological support for 'colour revolutions' and the paraxodical forcing of North Atlantic interests on Central Asia," he reportedly said, adding that there was "little substantial difference" between the actions of the US and NATO. "All this leaves no doubt that they are preparing to completally encircle Russia and deprive it of its sovereignty," Solzhenitsyn was quoted as saying. Russia was furious at what it saw as Western encroachment on its home turf after a series of peaceful revolutions brought opposition leades to power in the former Soviet republics Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

Source: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus...0604280921.htm

Solzhenitsyn Accuses West of Trying to Sideline Russia

2007

Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn has accused the West of trying to ignore and sideline Russia. The 88-year old author, who documented the murderous Soviet prison camp system based on his own seven-year experience as a prisoner of the gulag, said the Western criticism of Russia was often unfair, according to an interview with Der Spiegel magazine republished Tuesday in the Russian daily Izvestia. "Of course, Russia is not a democratic country yet. It is only starting to build democracy and it's all too easy to take it to task with a long list of omissions, violations and mistakes," Solzhenitsyn was quoted as saying. "But did not Russia clearly and unambiguously offer its helping hand to the West after Sept. 11? Only a psychological inadequacy, or a disastrous shortsightedness can explain the West's irrational refusal of this hand." President Vladimir Putin welcomed the U.S. deployment to the formerly Soviet Central Asia for operations in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 2001 terror attacks an unprecedented gesture that helped boost relations but Washington. But ties worsened again quickly amid differences over the war in Iraq, Washington's concerns about the Kremlin's backtracking on democracy and the Russia's opposition to U.S. missile defense plans in eastern Europe. Solzhenitsyn has appeared infrequently in public in recent years, looks frail and is believed to be ailing. In rare print or broadcast interviews, he has lamented the state of Russian politics and the government, but also has praised Putin despite the president's KGB background. Last month, Putin honored Solzhenitsyn with a State Prize for "humanitarian activity."

Solzhenitsyn scathingly criticized Putin's predecessors, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russia's first President Boris Yeltsin for conducting ill-planned reforms and kowtowing to the West.

Source: http://www.abcnews.go.com/Internatio...ory?id=3410622

Interview With Alexander Solzhenitsyn

2007

SPIEGEL: There are four tables in this space alone. In your new book "My American Years," which will be published in Germany this fall, you recollect that you used to write even while walking in the forest.

Solzhenitsyn: When I was in the gulag I would sometimes even write on stone walls. I used to write on scraps of paper, then I memorized the contents and destroyed the scraps.

SPIEGEL: And your strength did not leave you even in moments of enormous desperation?

Solzhenitsyn: Yes. I would often think: Whatever the outcome is going to be, let it be. And then things would turn out all right. It looks like some good came out of it.

SPIEGEL: I am not sure you were of the same opinion when in February 1945 the military secret service arrested Captain Solzhenitsyn in Eastern Prussia. Because, in his letters from the front, Solzhenitsyn was unflattering about Josef Stalin, and the sentence for that was eight years in the prison camps.

Solzhenitsyn: It was south of Wormditt. We had just broken out of a German encirclement and were marching to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) when I was arrested. I was always optimistic. And I held to and was guided by my views.

SPIEGEL: What views?

Solzhenitsyn: Of course, my views developed in the course of time. But I have always believed in what I did and never acted against my conscience.

SPIEGEL: Thirteen years ago when you returned from exile, you were disappointed to see the new Russia. You turned down a prize proposed by Gorbachev, and you also refused to accept an award Yeltsin wanted to give you. Yet now you have accepted the State Prize which was awarded to you by Putin, the former head of the FSB intelligence agency, whose predecessor the KGB persecuted and denounced you so cruelly. How does this all fit together?

Solzhenitsyn: The prize in 1990 was proposed not by Gorbachev, but by the Council of Ministers of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, then a part of the USSR. The prize was to be for "The Gulag Archipelago." I declined the proposal, since I could not accept an award for a book written in the blood of millions. In 1998, it was the county's low point, with people in misery; this was the year when I published the book "Russia in Collapse." Yeltsin decreed I be honored the highest state order. I replied that I was unable to receive an award from a government that had led Russia into such dire straits. The current State Prize is awarded not by the president personally, but by a community of top experts. The Council on Science that nominated me for the award and the Council on Culture that supported the idea include some of the most highly respected people of the country, all of them authorities in their respective disciplines. The president, as head of state, awards the laureates on the national holiday. In accepting the award I expressed the hope that the bitter Russian experience, which I have been studying and describing all my life, will be for us a lesson that keeps us from new disastrous breakdowns. Vladimir Putin -- yes, he was an officer of the intelligence services, but he was not a KGB investigator, nor was he the head of a camp in the gulag. As for service in foreign intelligence, that is not a negative in any country -- sometimes it even draws praise. George Bush Sr. was not much criticized for being the ex-head of the CIA, for example.

SPIEGEL: All your life you have called on the authorities to repent for the millions of victims of the gulag and communist terror. Was this call really heard?

Solzhenitsyn: I have grown used to the fact that, throughout the world, public repentance is the most unacceptable option for the modern politician.

SPIEGEL: The current Russian president says the collapse of the Soviet Union was the largest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. He says it is high time to stop this masochistic brooding over the past, especially since there are attempts "from outside," as he puts it, to provoke an unjustified remorse among Russians. Does this not just help those who want people to forget everything that took place during the county's Soviet past?

Solzhenitsyn: Well, there is growing concern all over the world as to how the United States will handle its new role as the world's only superpower, which it became as a result of geopolitical changes. As for "brooding over the past," alas, that conflation of "Soviet" and "Russian," against which I spoke so often in the 1970s, has not passed away either in the West, or in the ex-socialist countries, or in the former Soviet republics. The elder political generation in communist countries was not ready for repentance, while the new generation is only too happy to voice grievances and level accusations, with present-day Moscow a convenient target. They behave as if they heroically liberated themselves and lead a new life now, while Moscow has remained communist. Nevertheless, I dare hope that this unhealthy phase will soon be over, that all the peoples who have lived through communism will understand that communism is to blame for the bitter pages of their history.

SPIEGEL: Including the Russians.

Solzhenitsyn: If we could all take a sober look at our history, then we would no longer see this nostalgic attitude to the Soviet past that predominates now among the less affected part of our society. Nor would the Eastern European countries and former USSR republics feel the need to see in historical Russia the source of their misfortunes. One should not ascribe the evil deeds of individual leaders or political regimes to an innate fault of the Russian people and their country. One should not attribute this to the "sick psychology" of the Russians, as is often done in the West. All these regimes in Russia could only survive by imposing a bloody terror. We should clearly understand that only the voluntary and conscientious acceptance by a people of its guilt can ensure the healing of a nation. Unremitting reproaches from outside, on the other hand, are counterproductive.

SPIEGEL: To accept one's guilt presupposes that one has enough information about one's own past. However, historians are complaining that Moscow's archives are not as accessible now as they were in the 1990's.

Solzhenitsyn: It's a complicated issue. There is no doubt, however, that a revolution in archives took place in Russia over the last 20 years. Thousands of files have been opened; the researchers now have access to hundreds and thousands of previously classified documents. Hundreds of monographs that make these documents public have already been published or are in preparation. Alongside the declassified documents of the 1990's, there were many others published which never went through the declassification process. Dmitri Volkogonov, the military historian, and Alexander Yakovlev, the ex-member of the Politburo -- these people had enough influence and authority to get access to any files, and society is grateful to them for their valuable publications. As for the last few years, no one has been able to bypass the declassification procedure. Unfortunately, this procedure takes longer than one would like. Nevertheless the files of the country's most important archives, the National Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), are as accessible now as in the 1990's. The FSB sent 100,000 criminal- investigation materials to GARF in the late 1990s. These documents remain available for both citizens and researchers. In 2004-2005 GARF published the seven-volume "History of Stalin's Gulag." I cooperated with this publication and I can assure you that these volumes are as comprehensive and reliable as they can be. Researchers all over the world rely on this edition.

SPIEGEL: About 90 years ago, Russia was shaken first by the February Revolution and then by the October Revolution. These events run like a leitmotif through your works. A few months ago in a long article you reiterated your thesis once again: Communism was not the result of the previous Russian political regime; the Bolshevik Revolution was made possible only by Kerensky's poor governance in 1917. If one follows this line of thinking, then Lenin was only an accidental person, who was only able to come to Russia and seize power here with German support. Have we understood you correctly?

Solzhenitsyn: No, you have not. Only an extraordinary person can turn opportunity into reality. Lenin and Trotsky were exceptionally nimble and vigorous politicians who managed in a short period of time to use the weakness of Kerensky's government. But allow me to correct you: the "October Revolution" is a myth generated by the winners, the Bolsheviks, and swallowed whole by progressive circles in the West. On Oct. 25, 1917, a violent 24-hour coup d'etat took place in Petrograd. It was brilliantly and thoroughly planned by Leon Trotsky -- Lenin was still in hiding then to avoid being brought to justice for treason. What we call "the Russian Revolution of 1917" was actually the February Revolution. The reasons driving this revolution do indeed have their source in Russia's pre-revolutionary condition, and I have never stated otherwise. The February Revolution had deep roots -- I have shown that in "The Red Wheel." First among these was the long-term mutual distrust between those in power and the educated society, a bitter distrust that rendered impossible any compromise, any constructive solutions for the state. And the greatest responsibility, then, of course falls on the authorities: Who if not the captain is to blame for a shipwreck? So you may indeed say that the February Revolution in its causes was "the results of the previous Russian political regime." But this does not mean that Lenin was "an accidental person" by any means; or that the financial participation of Emperor Wilhelm was inconsequential. There was nothing natural for Russia in the October Revolution. Rather, the revolution broke Russia's back. The Red Terror unleashed by its leaders, their willingness to drown Russia in blood, is the first and foremost proof of it.

SPIEGEL: Your recent two-volume work "200 Years Together" was an attempt to overcome a taboo against discussing the common history of Russians and xxxs. These two volumes have provoked mainly perplexity in the West. You say the xxxs are the leading force of global capital and they are among the foremost destroyers of the bourgeoisie. Are we to conclude from your rich array of sources that the xxxs carry more responsibility than others for the failed Soviet experiment?

Solzhenitsyn: I avoid exactly that which your question implies: I do not call for any sort of scorekeeping or comparisons between the moral responsibility of one people or another; moreover, I completely exclude the notion of responsibility of one nation towards another. All I am calling for is self-reflection. You can get the answer to your question from the book itself: "Every people must answer morally for all of its past -- including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again? It is in that spirit, specifically, that it would behoove the xxxish people to answer, both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them. Not to answer before other peoples, but to oneself, to one's consciousness, and before God. Just as we Russians must answer -- for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors."

SPIEGEL: In our opinion, out of all your works, "The Gulag Archipelago" provoked the greatest public resonance. In this book you showed the misanthropic nature of the Soviet dictatorship. Looking back today, can you say to what extent it has contributed to the defeat of communism in the world?

Solzhenitsyn: You should not address this question to me -- an author cannot give such evaluations.

[...]

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/23/wo...23spiegel.html

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