Putin says Solzhenitsyn death is loss for Russia

Mon Aug 4, 2008 2:19pm EDT
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By Maria Golovnina

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin led tributes on Monday to the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel literature laureate and prominent dissident of the Soviet era, saying his death was a loss for all of Russia.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, described him as a "man of unique destiny."

Tributes also came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, U.S. President George W. Bush and other world leaders expressing condolences over the death of a man who exposed the horror of Josef Stalin's prison camps and the tyranny of Soviet rule.

Solzhenitsyn died in his house in Moscow of heart failure on Sunday aged 89. He will lie in state at Moscow's science academy on Tuesday and a funeral service will take place on Wednesday at the medieval Donskoi monastery, where he will be buried.

State television ran solemn reports on his life but there were no visible signs of grief on Moscow streets. Younger people confessed they knew little about his work.

Long banned at home, Solzhenitsyn gained initial fame when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev allowed the publication in 1962 of his "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," which described the horrifying routine of labor camp life.

He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 for his work, including "Gulag Archipelago," a chronicle of his own and thousands of other prison camp experiences.

His books unveiled the dark secrets of the Gulag network of camps where millions of Russians died during Stalin's purges. Some read and distributed his books underground, defying state persecution.   Continued...

<p>Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Alexander Solzhenitsyn talk as president visits his home in Troitse-Lykovo in Moscow, June 12, 2007. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin</p>