What was Alexander Solzhenitsyn's opinion of Putin?

Anniversary: ​​Putin and the legacy of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

His literary work shook the foundations of the Soviet Union; he was an intrepid champion for truth and freedom: the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008). And at the same time he was also a critic of Western democracy and way of life.

This dual legacy makes it difficult to remember the recipient of the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature. From the Solzhenitsyn year 2018 in Russia, decreed by President Putin, until the 100th birthday of the honoree on December 11th today, little felt. "It is recognized and not recognized," comments the Russian writer Viktor Erofejew, 71, author of the novel "The Moscow Beauty" and a member of the post-Solzhenitsyn generation.

Solzhenitsyn became famous in 1962 with the novel "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". The teacher and former camp inmate spoke openly for the first time about an experience shared by millions of Russians: about life and survival in the prison camp. The book was only able to appear because of the political thaw; Khrushchev wanted to distance himself from the legacy of the dictator Stalin.

The next novels "Cancer Station" and "In the First Circle of Hell" were no longer printed in the Soviet Union. And when Solzhenitsyn was to receive the Nobel Prize, Moscow would not let him leave the country. His main work, the monumental chronicle “Archipel Gulag” about Stalin's terror and the camp system, also appeared in the West from 1974 onwards. Solzhenitsyn wrote with empathy, holy anger and bitter irony about the millions of sufferings. At the same time, the moralist recognized a deep truth: "Gradually it became clear to me that the line that separates good and evil does not run between states, not between classes and parties, but through every human heart." The Moscow leadership raged and turned to the west Left turn away from the Soviet Union. In 1974 Solzhenitsyn was arrested and expatriated. His friend Heinrich Böll received him in Cologne. The path continued through exile via Switzerland and the USA before the author returned to his homeland in 1994.

Meanwhile, the situation looks like this: The nationalist Russian publicist Yegor Cholmogorov lists in an essay how much Putin politically took over from Solzhenitsyn: the emphasis on orthodoxy, the insistence on a Russian path of its own, the claim to a great Russia, to that Ukraine belongs. And Solzhenitsyn's widow Natalja praises the Kremlin chief for his policy towards Ukraine, of all things. "In Putin's time, Russia found its way back to military, international power," she says. Her husband has always warned against defection from Ukraine. She accused the West of "driving a wedge into this gap".

What else does the year of remembrance bring in Russia? In Moscow, Solzhenitsyn's apartment is due to open as a museum in December. Theaters show plays based on his novels, including, for the first time, the large but lengthy “Red Wheel”, Solzhenitsyn's story of the Russian revolution and its aftermath. And Solzhenitsyn's son Ignat will stand at the conductor's podium at a performance of the opera “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Friedemann Kohler, dpa