Is Putin ‘Rebuilding Russia’ According To Solzhenitsyn’s Design?

Is Putin ‘Rebuilding Russia’ According To Solzhenitsyn’s Design? by Eurasianet.org.

A EurasiaNet Partner Post from: RFE/RL

During an informal question-and-answer session at the pro-Kremlin Seliger youth camp on August 29, a young woman expressed concern about the “growth of nationalism” in Kazakhstan.

The woman wondered if a “Ukraine scenario” was possible there if longtime Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev left office — and asked what the Kremlin’s strategy was for dealing with this eventuality.

“What are the chances of Eurasian integration?” she asked.

Putin stressed Kazakhstan’s importance as an ally and lavishly praised Nazarbaev as a wise leader dedicated to the welfare of his country. He said Nazarbaev was perhaps the most capable of all the leaders of post-Soviet countries.

However, part of his answer raised alarm bells in the Central Asian country.

Nazarbaev “accomplished a completely unique thing,” Putin said. “He created a state on a territory where no state had ever been. The Kazakhs never had their own state. He created it. In this sense he is, in the post-Soviet space, a unique person.”

Putin went on to praise the philosophy of the “Eurasian idea” and to assert that Kazakhs endorse it and see benefits to “remaining in the space of the larger Russian world.”

It was a particularly sensitive moment because Kazakhstan is a key Russian ally and a member of the Russia-led customs union. More than 20 percent of the country’s population is ethnic Russian, and it makes up a majority or significant plurality in many of the country’s northern regions.

Russia-watcher Miriam Elder noted in a piece on BuzzFeed that Putin’s response and other statements he has made about Ukraine in the past reflect some of the arguments put forward by Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in a 1990 essay titled “Rebuilding Russia.”

Increasingly Fashionable

Solzhenitsyn’s Greater Russian, Orthodox-driven nationalism, Elder notes, “once had him appear sorely out of touch, but today [is] increasingly fashionable.”

Although he is best known for his exposure of the Soviet Gulag system and his staunch anticommunism, Solzhenitsyn welcomed Putin’s rise to power in 1999 and praised him for restoring Russia’s national pride.

In 2007, Putin visited the ailing Solzhenitsyn at home to award him a state prize for his humanitarian work.

In “Rebuilding Russia,” published in the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Solzhenitsyn criticizes the Soviet government’s haphazard border policies that he says carved up traditional “Rus.” He advocates a “Russian Union” encompassing Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and the ethnic Russian parts of Kazakhstan.

Solzhenitsyn is confident of the fundamental unity of the Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian peoples, three branches that were historically separated by “the Mongol invasion and Polish colonization.”

“We all together emerged from the treasured Kyiv, ‘from which the Russian land began,’ according to the chronicle of Nestor,” Solzhenitsyn writes. He argues that, in Lithuania and Poland, “White Russians [Belarusians] and Little Russians [Ukrainians] acknowledged that they were Russians and fought against Polonization and Catholicism.”

“The return of these lands to Russia was at the time viewed by everyone as ‘reunification,'” he says.

Solzhenitsyn acknowledges the suffering of Ukrainians under the Soviets, but says that is no reason to “hack off Ukraine” and, especially, “those parts that weren’t part of old Ukraine…Novorossia or Crimea or Donbas and areas practically to the Caspian Sea.” Foreshadowing today’s Russian rhetoric, Solzhenitsyn says that, if Ukraine is to be independent, then those regions should be allowed “self-determination.”

But he clearly advocates union between Russia and Ukraine.

“Separating Ukraine today would mean cutting through millions of families and people,” Solzhenitsyn writes. “Such a mix of populations; whole regions with Russian majorities; how many people unable to choose between the two nationalities; how many people of mixed ethnicity; how many mixed marriages that until now were never considered mixed. Among most of the population, there isn’t even a hint of intolerance between Ukrainians and Russians.”

And all this, he writes, “applies completely to White Russia [Belarus] as well.”

At the same time, Solzhenitsyn criticizes the Soviet ambition to impose Russian domination over non-Russian nations, saying it “would destroy the Russian national essence.”

He urges immediately severing ties with the three Baltic countries, Moldova, the three countries of the South Caucasus, and all the Central Asian countries except Kazakhstan. Russia does not have enough strength to control an empire, he writes, and trying to do so will only “hasten our destruction.”

Likewise, he wishes the former Soviet-bloc countries of Central Europe well, although he says Russia cannot afford to subsidize them with natural resources. “We rejoice for the countries of Eastern Europe — let them live and prosper in freedom,” he writes. “And let them pay for everything according to global prices.”

  • Peter Arhangelsky

    It is same everywhere. Up till 15-16 centuries there was no even Russian, Ukrainian or Belarusian languages. Old East Slavic was spoken.

    And don’t forget 1991 referendum when 71% of Russian, 72% of Ukrainians and 82% of Belorusians voted to preserve reformed Soviet Union. People didn’t want to be separated. But Boris Yeltsin and Co had another idea.

  • czeczma

    Let’s not forget that Solzhenitsyn was a great admirer of Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, Chechens (for being cold-blooded murderers in particular), dreamed of Hitler’s victory over Russia and his own country being nuked, without specifying by whom. All on the pages of his masterpiece “The Gulag Archipelago”. Is Putin seeing eye to eye with him as the authors of this article seem to suggest.

  • Observer

    Problem is, what “the Russian world” comprises may be differently perceived in Ukraine and Belarus and differently in Russia.

  • Wolf Sullivan

    This article is ridiculous. History can teach us things, but it is not our blueprint for a modern civilized world. Marx wrote that history is a nightmare. Adolf Putin is a nightmare. We don’t want nightmares, we want a better world without crazy fascist dictators like Adolf Putin.

  • kem

    The greatest fighting force against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. Vietnam? China? …………Russia?

  • Alexander Bras

    I never made mention to fiction or non fiction, he was a good writer, not great , mostly celebrated for his anti communist views at a time when that was dangerous, but he certainly was not in the league of someone like Tolstoy who was in many ways the pulse of the Russian soul.

  • Nate

    He wasn’t a fiction writer. First and foremost, he was a historian with extensive life experiences and analytical mind. He dedicated his entire life to his thoughts and studies.

  • Nate

    Wow – he was a true genius

  • ISIS McCain

    The EU bankers collateralized the $17 billion loan recently given to Kiev with Ukrainian national resources.

    So, what that says, is that once the government in Kiev defaults on that debt to the EU banks, which it will, the EU banks can then confiscate all the Ukrainian national resources that were held as collateral. Please note: Those same banks that terrorized the Soviet people are now doing the same to folks in the West!!!

    The provoking of the next huge war will be extremely profitable for the military-industrial complex…and the banksters of the Federal Reserve/IMF/World Bank, where the dollars are printed out of thin air and lent to the Federal Government at interest, a scam by any other definition!!!! Tell me, does anyone associated with these greedy
    parasites have ANY interest (no pun intended) in maintaining world peace? NO!!

    The fascist junta troops from Western Ukraine actually torture captives and shoot old women and children in a war of intimidation/terrorism.

    Amazingly, the grandfathers of these same junta troops , after joining up with the invading N@tzies, did exactly the same thing to captured Soviet troops back in 1941 through 1945… …before the bottom fell out and their hero Stepan Bandera chickened out and fled to Germany…from where it all started and continues to simmer!!!

    Check this out if you want some insight into November 22, 1963 and JFK’s assassination.

    Dark Legacy George H.W. Bush and the murder of John F. Kennedy January 2009:


    Catch Alex Jones at Infowars Dot Com for the REAL news!!

  • Alexander Bras

    Though I agree with some of his points, Particulary the union of the Russian Belarussian and Ukrainian people and the need to release the baltics cause they are fundemantally a different people, it’s important to remember his sometimes crudeness chauvinism and a raging Antisemitism that I do not believe Putin shares at all, He was just a writer, no more no less.

  • Peter Arhangelsky

    Well if you had read this article attentively, you would notice that Solzhenitsyn was actually critisising Russian imperialism.

    Unite Russian World and let all other ethnic republics go. That was his idea.

  • Observer

    Solzhenitsyn can be disgusting at times. Especially when he wears the mantle of righteousness while shamelessly glorifying Russian imperialism.

  • NavyMurph

    While the use of force should always be carefully debated, perhaps more
    so than the debate that took place prior to the military adventurism of
    recent engagements, I’m not sure why we aren’t making our force posture
    and clear supremacy in military capability more clear, reminding folks
    of the core competence of the U.S. Armed services. http://tinyurl.com/khhnyn7
    Making clear that the United States remains unreservedly committed to
    the peace and security of our longtime allies is one of the BEST ways to
    deter conflict. When leaders in countries like Poland start questioning
    U.S. resolve, it creates uncertainty for strategic decision making in
    other countries, which is never good. The U.S. military remains the
    strongest fighting force in modern history.