Solzhenitsyn Decries U.S. Efforts to 'Encircle' Russia
Nobel Prize-winning author and former Gulag prisoner Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent nearly 20 years in the U.S. after leaving the Soviet Union. Now he's back in Russia - and attacking the U.S. - the country that sheltered him.
In a recent interview Solzhenitsyn criticized the U.S., and its NATO allies, for what he called 'an effort to totally encircle Russia and destroy its sovereignty.'
The 87-year-old writer told the newspaper Moscow News: 'Although it is clear that Russia, as it exists, represents no threat to NATO, the latter is methodically developing its military deployment in Eastern Europe and on Russia's southern flank.'
He pointed to the pro-Western opposition victories in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine as evidence that NATO's influence was spreading closer to Russia.
Russia has been further troubled by NATO's 2004 expansion into the Baltic states and by American military bases in former Soviet states in Central Asia.
And Solzhenitsyn has claimed that the U.S. 'occupies' Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a campaign directed against Russia.
Solzhenitsyn, who experienced first-hand the horrors of totalitarianism as a prisoner of Soviet prison camps, also criticized Russia for seeking to emulate Western democracy.
'We have opted for the most thoughtless form of imitation,' he said in the interview.
'And yes, present-day Western democracy is in a serious state of crisis, and it's still impossible to foresee how it will try to overcome it.'
Solzhenitsyn chronicled life in Soviet prison camps in 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' and 'The Gulag Archipelago,' and was deported from the U.S.S.R. in 1974. He took up residence in Vermont, but returned to Russia in 1994.
His recent outrage over the perceived threat of the West 'encircling' Russia is 'sad,' according to a commentary in the Guardian:
'Solzhenitsyn was brave enough to tell the truth about Stalin's slave camps, and a good enough writer to tell it well.
'It is sad and disappointing now - and puzzling - that he can't acknowledge how deep a scar those camps left on the populations which have, in whole or in part, turned their backs on Russia; how the hundreds of thousands of Balts, Ukrainians and other East Europeans killed or imprisoned by Stalinism might just have encouraged a yen, in some of them at least, for NATO membership.'