Solzhenitsyn attacks Bush over UkraineLuke Harding in Moscow
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russia's most celebrated living writer, yesterday launched a memorably waspish attack on George Bush, accusing him of falling for a "loony fable" over Ukrainian history.
In an article in the newspaper Izvestiya, the 89-year old Nobel laureate suggested that the US president had accepted Ukrainian claims the country had been the victim of a "Holocaust" under Stalin in the 1930s.
On Tuesday Bush, with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, laid a wreath at a monument in Kiev in memory of the victims of the 1932-33 famine, which Ukraine calls the Holodomor, and in which millions of Ukrainians died.
Without mentioning Bush by name, Solzhenitsyn said the famine had "mown down" not only Ukrainians but millions of ordinary citizens across the Soviet Union. Many of the communists who orchestrated it were in fact Ukrainian, he added.
"This provocative outcry about genocide ... has been elevated to the top government level in contemporary Ukraine. Does this mean that they have even outdone the Bolshevik propaganda mongers with their rakish juggling?" Solzhenitsyn asked.
He added that "western people" - unlike Russians - had had little exposure to "monstrous lies", and were therefore more willing to believe historical errors. "They have never really got into our history. All they need is a loony fable," he wrote.
Solzhenitsyn, who exposed the horrors of Stalin's Gulag, was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1970. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974, returning from the US in 1994.
His later statements have demonstrated an increasingly nationalist anti-western tone, and he appears to be a fan of President Vladimir Putin, who gave him a literary award last summer.