|'The Solzhenitsyn Shock'||^|
With the death of Russia's Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the world has lost one of the great figures of the past century. In Germany, though, editorialists criticize the role the Nobel Prize winner played in his later life in pushing Moscow away from the West.
Financial Times Deutschland writes:
"For most in Western Europe and America, it is accepted as fact that socialism itself led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, making the re-emergence of Russia possible. But the majority of Russians do not share this viewpoint. And Putin often enjoyed support not because he supported democracy, but because of his anti-democratic tendencies. The Russian people have an arcane yearning for an all-powerful leader. With his vision of a village-like Russian solidarity, Solzhenitsyn nourished and supported Putin. Though Solzhenitsyn contributed significantly to the fight against Stalinism, he had little interest in democracy."
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"For too long, the West overlooked the Solzhenitsyn's reactionary, anti-modernist tendencies. â€¦ Soviet literary expert Efim Etkind once accused him of pursuing a theocracy, saying, 'Solzhenitsyn wants a Russian ayatollah.' Although that was a polemic, it is also true that the West confused Solzhenitsyn's hatred of the Soviet powers as a commitment to democracy. For Solzhenitsyn, a diversity of opinion was never a god given -- it was just a means for saving Russia -- and not a particularly reliable one. Solzhenitsyn was no human rights activist -- at least not in the modern, universal sense -- because he placed god and the almighty Russia above the rights of the individual."
Of all people, it was former KGB chief Vladimir Putin who was finally accepted by Solzhenitsyn. Putin had disbursed a network of friends from the secret service to leadership posts around the country (the same people who had carried Solzhenitsyn off to the gulag in the Sixties), he had once again turned the media into an uncritical government mouthpiece and he had eliminated regional self-administration -- one of the author's pet projects. But that didn't seem to matter to Solzhenitsyn -- after all, Putin had restored Russia's greatness. That was merit enough for the author."
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