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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Solzhenitsyn Handed State Award

ReutersOsipov, right, and Piotrovsky announcing the award for Solzhenitsyn.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who berated the Soviet Union with searing tales of Stalin's labor camps, was honored by President Vladimir Putin with a state award Tuesday, the Kremlin said.

Putin signed a decree giving the veteran writer the award "for exemplary achievements in the area of humanitarian activities."

The award ceremony will take place June 12. It was unclear whether Solzhenitsyn, 88, who rarely appears in public, would be at the Kremlin to accept the award.

Solzhenitsyn's wife, Natalya, told Interfax that her husband viewed the award as a sign that his life's work had been noticed. "It gives a certain hope, and Alexander Isayevich would be glad if this hope really was fulfilled in life, hope that our country will learn from the lessons of destroying itself in the 20th century and never repeat it," she said.

The award was announced by State Hermitage Museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky and Yury Osipov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, at a Kremlin news conference.

Solzhenitsyn opened the eyes of the world to the brutality of Stalin's camps with writings that brought him the wrath of the Soviet authorities and years of persecution. To the anger of the Kremlin he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970.

He made a hero's return to Russia in 1994 and railed against the country's heady materialism and corruption. He refused to accept a high state award from then-President Boris Yeltsin, saying he could not accept honors from a leader who brought misery to his people.