SOLZHENITSYN AND METROPOLITAN KIRILL ON RUSSIA, MEDVEDEV, UKRAINE


C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000932 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

EO 12958 DECL: 04/03/2018 
TAGS KDEM, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, RS 
SUBJECT: SOLZHENITSYN AND METROPOLITAN KIRILL ON RUSSIA, 
MEDVEDEV, UKRAINE

Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reason: 1.4 (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: In separate conversations recently,
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Metropolitan Kirill criticized
the decision to recognize
Kosovo’s independence and sharply condemned plans for Ukraine
 to move closer to NATO. Solzhenitsyn, who is partially
paralyzed by a stroke,
 but remains alert and very engaged in current events, as his
 April 2 Izvestiya article on the Holodomor demonstrated,
 joined Kirill in voicing his
concerns about poverty and the widening gap between rich and
poor in Russia. Kirill again expressed optimism about prospects
for better relations
with Roman Catholic Pope Benedict and described his intention
 to attempt to jump-start an ecumenical dialogue under the
auspices of the UN and, in the United States, via
the National Council of Churches. Both Solzhenitsyn and
 Kirill were optimistic about prospects for Russia under Medvedev.
 End summary.

Solzhenitsyn on Town Hall Democracy, Medvedev, Kosovo,
Ukraine and NATO
------------------------------------ 

¶2. (C) In a recent meeting, writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
received the Ambassador at his home outside Moscow.
Solzhenitsyn, who will turn 90 this December has been in
declining health for some time. A stroke has left his left
arm paralyzed and his hand gnarled, but Solzhenitsyn’s
legendary energy was undiminished, and he was alert,
 spoke clearly, and, as the conversation showed, actively
 engaged with the events of the day. With Solzhenitsyn was
 his wife Natalya, who followed the conversation carefully,
 and did not hesitate to contradict her husband when she thought
it necessary.

¶3. (C) As he had in a 2007 Der Spiegel interview, Solzhenitsyn
 positively contrasted the eight-year reign of Putin with those
of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, which he said had
“added to the damage done to the Russian state by seventy years
of Communist rule.” Under Putin, the nation was re-discovering
 what it was to be Russian, Solzhenitsyn thought,
 although he acknowledged that many problems remained; among
them poverty and the widening gap between rich and poor.

¶4. (C) Solzhenitsyn enthusiastically told the Ambassador of
the need to develop grassroots democracy through instruments
of local self-government. Recalling his time in
 the United States, Solzhenitsyn called the Vermont town hall
 meetings he had witnessed the “essence of democracy.” Putin’s
 decision, following Beslan, to have governors
 appointed instead of elected had been a “mistake,” Solzhenitsyn
thought. He also dismissed the on-again, off-again conversations
in Russia about the need to construct a  genuine party system as
 “irrelevant.”
 Solzhenitsyn thought it was necessary to elect officials directly,
 so that they could be held accountable for their actions.

¶5. (C) President-elect Medvedev struck Solzhenitsyn as a “nice,
 young man.” Solzhenitsyn had not met him, but he guessed he was up
 to the “enormous challenge of repairing the damage done to Russian
 citizens during the Soviet period.” His reference to the Soviet
 period caused Solzhenitsyn to worry that young Russians did not
sufficiently appreciate the dangers of Soviet communism.
It was essential, as well, that Russia re-assure the former
Soviet states that it fully appreciated how “deformed”
 the Soviet system was, and was aware of the crimes, like the
Holodomor, it had committed against Soviet citizens.
(Note: on April 2, Solzhenitsyn joined the debate here
about the famine in Ukraine in a brief article published in
 Izvestiya. In it, he recalls the 1921 famine that stalked
 the Urals and rejects the notion that the 1932 - 1933
 famine was a an act of “genocide” against the Ukrainian people.
 Solzhenitsyn’s article sparked a mini-controversy here,
 with Father Gleb Yakunin taking Solzhenitsyn to task
 for “attacking the first CIS state that condemned the
communist genocide.”)

¶6. (C) Solzhenitsyn repeated to the Ambassador his objection to
 independence for Kosovo. Why, he asked rhetorically, should the
Serbs be held responsible for the sins of Milosevic?
 He was critical of plans to move Ukraine closer to NATO, although
 he didn’t belabor the point. The more significant moment, he
 thought, was the reaction of the United States
after 9/11, when Putin attempted to extend a helping hand. He
 cooperated in paving the way for U.S. bases in Central Asia and
joined other foreign leaders in extending Russia’s condolences to
 the American people. Solzhenitsyn hoped  for a time when that
 spontaneous gesture by Putin would be fully reciprocated.

¶7. (C) Solzhenitsyn told the Ambassador that he continues to work
actively in the archives, and it was clear from the topical
references sprinkled throughout his conversation that he followed current events actively.

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5 comments on “SOLZHENITSYN AND METROPOLITAN KIRILL ON RUSSIA, MEDVEDEV, UKRAINE

  1. Pingback: SOLZHENITSYN AND METROPOLITAN KIRILL ON RUSSIA, MEDVEDEV, UKRAINE - Ziarul toateBlogurile.ro

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