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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Natalya Solzhenitsyna Attacks Press

Natalya Solzhenitsyna, wife of writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, sharply criticized on Wednesday media coverage of her husband's return to Russia after 20 years in exile. Appearing at a press conference featuring leading intellectuals, Solzhenitsyn said that the media had missed "an incredible opportunity to find out what ordinary people think because they open up to Solzhenitsyn like to no one else." Instead, she claimed, coverage has focused on petty details of the writer's return, such as how much money he spends. Other panelists, including scholar Lyudmila Saraskin and journalist Kronid Lubarsky, voiced the same opinion even more forcefully. "I have never been so ashamed," Saraskin said, "as I am when I read press reports about Solzhenitsyn." The writer's wife, who recently returned to Moscow after joining him on his return to Russia last month, said Solzhenitsyn's trip across Siberia had "exceeded all of his expectations." As a result, he will not return to Moscow within the next few weeks. The writer is currently in the city of Krasnoyarsk in western Siberia. "He spends 70 percent of his time meeting with ordinary people, listening to them and taking copious notes," the writer's wife said. "He is an extraordinary listener and people really open up to him." When asked about the couple's impressions of Russia so far, she said the current economic transition in Russia seemed to be most difficult not for the young or the old, but for the middle-aged, "people who still have time to do something with their lives, but who do not have the opportunity to do it." "We have met so many scholars and professionals who really gave all their lives to their careers and who have now lost everything. These people seem completely run down," she said. Other members of the panel backed Solzhenitsyna's call for a more intellectual discussion of the significance of the writer's return and attacked rightist politicians and journalists who have been trying to exploit her husband for political purposes.