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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Solzhenitsyn Envisions A Stronger Presidency

Exiled writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a letter read out on Russian television, has sharply criticized the government's reform program but nevertheless sided with President Boris Yeltsin in his bid for a strong presidency.


Arguing that strong leadership was the only protection against a breakup of Russia, he said, "The Russian Federation, with its size and diversity cannot exist without a strong presidency which is not weaker than that of the United States.


"In such a moment it is especially dangerous to take radical political turns and to lose the direction toward the authoritative power of the president who has been elected by the nation and stands above all political parties". Solzhenitsyn's letter to the Russian ambassador to Washington, Vladimir Lukin, was read Sunday night on the television program Itogi.


In essence, the letter was a call for stability - even at the expense of delaying ratification of the constitution and creating a strong parliament to balance the powers of the president.


The author, who was forced into exile in 1974 by the Brezhnev government, reaffirmed that he intends to return to Russia to live. "Developments in Russia tear my soul apart even before my return", he wrote. "It would be even more painful later".


A fervent Russian nationalist, Solzhenitsyn's views cannot be classified as either pro-parliament or pro-government, but have been used by both when expedient. Presently, Solzhenitsyn's belief in a strong executive is more in line with Yeltsin's views.


Despite his support for Yeltsin in his present battle with parliament over control of the nation's reform program, Solzhenitsyn, 74, had little praise for the man he described as "too Russian" in an interview last year with Yury Karyakin, who read Solzhenitsyn's letter on Sunday.


"Fourteen months of economic reform have put the country into total poverty and despair", he wrote.


Solzhenitsyn proposed a slavic "state union" of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, but omitted Ukraine, criticizing its "shortsighted hatred" of Russia. He urged legislators at this week's Congress to reach a power-sharing agreement with the president.


"If today's deputies have feelings about the people", he wrote, "they will not search for victory over a hated enemy but for a stable position of the state's steering wheel which would enable all of us to get out of the storm".


Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 for his books chronicling Stalin's terror, including "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", "The First Circle", "The Inner Circle", and "The Gulag Archipelago" his opus on the prison camps to which he was sent.


In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was arrested, charged with treason and banished from the Soviet Union. He has lived on a secluded estate in Cavendish, Vermont, ever since.