The Russian author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died at his home outside Moscow, aged 89. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin led the tributes, describing his death as a great loss to all Russia. He said the country was proud to have been able to call him a contemporary and a compatriot. Solzhenitsyn died on Sunday night from heart failure.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent his condolences and world leaders, including France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, have also paid their respects. In Moscow, there was admiration for the writer and the man. One woman said: “At the time we had to read his books in secret. They were forbidden but they were already a sensation, a taster of freedom… freedom and Solzhenitsyn meant the same thing.”
Another Moscow resident added: “Alexander Solzhenitsyn is without doubt a major page in the history of our country. He was a controversial person but his input to Russian society was immense.” “He allowed a lot people, myself and my generation included, to see our history in another way. And also to look again at what happened during the Soviet era,” said another man. Solzhenitsyn was expected to be buried on Wednesday at the Donskoy monastry cemetery in Moscow.