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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Solzhenitsyn Stands Up for Displaced Russians

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a rare interview in the current edition of Forbes magazine, has criticized the "blindness and stubbornness" of those who reject Moscow's right to protect the millions of Russians who wound up on foreign soil after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn, who plans to end 20 years of exile and return home within weeks, also said that some Americans wished "to use all means possible, no matter what the consequences, to weaken Russia." The interview with Russia's greatest living writer was also published Wednesday in the newspaper Izvestia. Solzhenitsyn, 75, did not discuss his plans for his return to Russia. He has said previously that he hopes to meet with many Russians, keep writing and stay above the fray in daily politics. He did take swipes at two major political figures, calling ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky "an evil caricature of a Russian patriot," and saying that reformer Yegor Gaidar had performed "yet another heartless experiment ... on the unfortunate people of Russia." He did not mention President Boris Yeltsin directly, but said that Zhirinovsky did well in last December's elections because "all the democratic parties, groups and leaders had completely abandoned Russia's national interests." Solzhenitsyn, who has often called Russia the first victim of communism, argued that despite decades of Cold War confrontation, Moscow and Washington have no historical quarrel. "Beginning with communism, Russia ceased to exist," he said. "What is there to talk about? The confrontation was not at all with Russia, but with the communist U.S.S.R." Solzhenitsyn said that old hostilities are fanned by Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and other former cold warriors who insist that Russia will always pose a threat to the West. They "are frozen in a mode of thought they developed a long time ago," he said. "With unchanging blindness and stubbornness they keep repeating and repeating this theory about the supposed age-old aggressiveness of Russia, without taking into consideration today's reality." Solzhenitsyn took particular issue with Americans who express alarm at Russia's statements and actions on behalf of the millions of ethnic Russians who now live as foreigners throughout the former Soviet Union. "Imagine that one not-very-fine day, two or three of your states in the Southwest, in the space of 24 hours, declare themselves independent of the U.S. They declare themselves a fully sovereign nation, decreeing that Spanish will be the only language. All English-speaking residents, even if their ancestors have lived there for 200 years, have to take a test in the Spanish language within one or two years and to swear allegiance to the new nation. Otherwise they will not receive citizenship and be deprived of civic, property and employment rights. "What would be the reaction of the United States? I have no doubt that it would be immediate military intervention," Solzhenitsyn said. "But today Russia faces exactly this scenario." He repeated his proposal for Russia to form a new union with the other two Slavic republics, Ukraine and Belarus, as well as with Kazakhstan, home to a large number of ethnic Russians. He said "it would be desirable" if a resulting Russian Union "could be formed into a unitary state, not into a fragile, artificial confederation with a huge supranational bureaucracy."