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What Solzhenitsyn said about Putin, and vice versa

The prominent writer and historian, who was exiled to GULAG camp, was born on December 11, 1918
Natalia Solzhenitsyna, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Russia's President Vladimir Putin  Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Natalia Solzhenitsyna, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Russia's President Vladimir Putin
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, July 24. /TASS/.  Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the House of Russia Abroad on July 24, 2019. Solzhenitsyn’s widow, Natalia, who is President of the Solzhenitsyn Charity Foundation, will show the head of state around the Museum of Russia Abroad.

Here are some quotes of what Solzhenitsyn said about Putin:

"The president knows only too well what incredible difficulties, both domestic and external, he has inherited and which are to be avoided today. I would like to praise the prudence and soundness of his decisions and judgements. At large, he has a quick mind and agile wit and has no lust for personal power, no thrill of power. <…> He really works hard. Hard because the tasks are extremely hard to accomplish." (interview with the Russian television dated September 21, 2000).

"Reverse efforts to save the country’s lost statehood began to be taken under Putin. Some of these attempts however looked rather face-lifting but later they became more rigorous. The foreign policy, bearing in mind our situation and possibilities, is quite reasonable and more foresighted. But in terms of what has been inherited from the predecessors, much is still in shambles. The general situation people are living in is still hard and chaotic." (interview with the Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper dated April 28, 2006).

"Yes, Vladimir Putin used to be a security officer but he was neither a KGB investigator, nor a GULAG camp chief. Notably, international, so to say, external services are dispraised in no country, on the contrary, they are often praised. No one ever upbraided George Bush Sr. for his being CIA director in the past." (interview with Der Spiegel of July 2007).

Here are some quotes of what Putin said about Solzhenitsyn:

"He [Solzhenitsyn] is a man who loves Russian history and relies on it while analyzing present-day developments and looking into in the country’s future. I think it is very important." (interview with Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza and TVP television channel dated January 15, 2002).

"We are proud that Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was our compatriot and contemporary. We will retain memories of him as a strong, courageous man with a profound sense of dignity. His works as a writer and public activities will serve as an example of selfless devotion to people, to the Fatherland, to the ideals of freedom, justice and humanism." (official message of condolences to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s family over his death on August 5, 2008).

"He was a man who, together with the nation, lived through a great tragedy and purges. Solzhenitsyn’s life and work could be seen as an inoculation of society against any types of tyranny." (speech at a meeting with Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko on August 5, 2008).

"I remember well all my contacts with Alexander Isayevich, his wisdom, foresight and a wide gasp of history. His heart, soul and thought were filled with pain for the Fatherland and unfailing love for it. These feelings were a driving force of his creative endeavor. He clearly distinguished authentic, real, people’s Russia and the totalitarian system that plunged millions of people into sufferings and hard trials. But even in exile, Alexander Isayevich never let anyone speak disparagingly and spitefully about his Motherland, rebuffing any manifestations of Russophobia." (speech at the opening ceremony of Alexander Solzhenitsyn monument in Moscow on December 11, 2018).