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'We still haven’t said goodbye to the past' - Solzhenitsyn family respond to desecration of new memorial to writer in Vladivostok (Rossiiskaya gazeta)

posted 15 Sep 2015, 12:45 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Sep 2015, 12:57 ]
9 September 2015

A placard with the word ‘Judas’ has appeared on the Alexander Solzhenitsyn memorial, three days after it was opened in Vladivostok. The writer’s wife, Natalia Dmitrievna and two sons, Yermolai and Stepan saw no reason to inflame the situation and addressed the residents of Vladivostok through a letter to the press. ‘Rossiyskaya Gazeta’ publishes their letter today.

“Three days ago in Vladivostok a memorial to our husband and father, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was opened and today there are reports in the press that ‘a young Stalinist’ has hung a placard with the word ‘Judas’ on the monument. This only goes to show that even after his death the words of Solzhenitsyn are now more important than ever. He always called on the country to examine and know its history, to be proud of its sublime pages, but also to recognise and to repent its mistakes and crimes. And yet we are prone to short-sightedness: it is becoming more and more common for us to divide our fellow citizens into those who are ‘our own’ and those who are ‘the traitors’. As a country, we have not discussed or acknowledged the crimes of the Communist regime against its own people - we do not want, as people say, to go ‘raking up the painful past’. But we will have to recognise that if we do not do this, then we shall pay the price for it again. And now in Vladivostok this young man declares that he wants to erect a monument to Stalin, a man upon whose orders thousands of our citizens were killed in his very own city and who ordered hundreds of thousands to be sent from that very place to Kolyma. And Solzhenitsyn is his ‘traitor’, just like he was in the Soviet press half a century ago. Black equals white and white equals black. Just as the living writer once did, today the monument to him demands that we make a clear evaluation of our history.

This memorial in Vladivostok is wonderful, your city is open and looks to the future. We’d like to wish that on the threshold of the centenary of the 1917 revolution that you in your city and all of us across Russia find a way to discuss and comprehend the whole tragedy of Bolshevism and its echoes across our country. We have to move forward as independent and strong citizens, completely freed from the delusions and lies of that dark part of our history. Without a sober understanding of the past we cannot hope to build a prosperous future.”

NB: Vladivostok was one of the first cities Alexander Solzhenitsyn visited in 1994 on his return from the USA. 


Translated by Detzi Chocieszynski