Soviet paper prints blast at regime by Solzhenitsyn

September 19, 1990|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,Moscow Bureau of The Sun

MOSCOW -- A unique Russian voice, its uncompromising tone familiar from long ago, yesterday joined the tumultuous debate going on here about the economic and political future of the Soviet Union.

And though dispatched from the exiled writer's Vermont hideaway, the arguments of Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn fit surprisingly smoothly into the Moscow discussion.

For the first time in nearly three decades, Mr. Solzhenitsyn, 72, a towering figure in 20th-century Russia, directly addressed the Soviet public on a current political topic through an official publication.

It was a sign of the times that his stridently anti-Communist, 16,000-word manifesto was printed -- unedited, no less -- by a Communist Party publishing house in a special supplement to the newspaper of the Communist Youth League.

"An independent citizen cannot exist without private property," Mr. Solzhenitsyn wrote in Komsomolskaya Pravda, in words remarkably like those heard daily from one faction in the Supreme Soviet. "For 70 years, they poisoned our brains to fear private property and to shun hired labor like an evil spirit -- that was a big victory of Ideology over our human essence."

But he added, again echoing the caution of many a parliamentary deputy: "The introduction of [private property] should go very carefully . . . so that the land falls directly into the hands of peasants who work it and not those of big-time speculators."

Mr. Solzhenitsyn's article indirectly strikes yet another blow against the already staggering government of Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai I. Ryzhkov and its reform plan. As the Supreme Soviet debate over economic reform raged on yesterday, Mr. Ryzhkov told reporters he could implement only his own plan, hinting that he would step down if the more radical plan named for economist Stanislav S. Shatalin is passed.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn readily agreed to Komsomolskaya Pravda's offer to publish his article, the paper said in an introduction, after considering its 22 million circulation and low price.

His blockbuster, "How to Renovate Russia," proposes that the Slavic republics of the Russia Federation, the Ukraine and Byelorussia secede from the Soviet Union together in order to dismantle the Communist system peacefully and replace it with a democratic, market-based "Russian Union."

While he cites the Bible, Aristotle and Pope John Paul II, Mr. Solzhenitsyn descends from philosophical heights to explain in considerable detail the economic and political changes he proposes. His program sounds remarkably similar to that of Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin.

President Mikhail S. Gorbachev last month returned Soviet citizenship to Mr. Solzhenitsyn and a score of other writers, scientists and activists exiled between 1966 and 1988.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn was expelled in 1974 after the publication in the West of his epic history of the Stalinist prison camp system, "The Gulag Archipelago." He responded to the return of his citizenship acidly, noting that treason charges lodged against him had not been formally dropped.

Russian Prime Minister Ivan S. Silayev followed up with a warmly worded invitation to Mr. Solzhenitsyn to visit Russia as his guest. The writer answered that he expects to return to Russia, but could never return as a visitor or guest.

"The knell has sounded for communism," the article opens. "But its concrete structure has not yet toppled and we face the danger that instead of being liberated, we will crushed by its wreckage."

He calls for a halt to Soviet aid to totalitarian Third World regimes, demands nationalization of Communist Party property and proposes the liquidation of the KGB. He gives Mr. Gorbachev, who is not mentioned, little credit for his attempts to reform what he calls the "malignant Marxist-Leninist utopia."

"What has five, six years of perestroika brought us except pitiful internal changes to the Central Committee, the building of an artificial electoral system to ensure the Communist Party does -- not lose power?" he writes.

In fact, Soviet replies are sure to point out, the publication of the article alone disproves Mr. Solzhenitsyn's assertion that perestroika has changed little. And the election system, far from preserving Communist power, has severely weakened the party, which was forced last February to abandon its constitutional monopoly on power.

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