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Solzhenitsyn Rips Almost Everyone in Parliament Speech

October 29, 1994|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn thundered into Russian politics Friday with his first speech to Parliament--a blistering dissection of post-Soviet life in which democracy remains just a dream.

Lawmakers greeted the gray-bearded writer warmly and applauded often early in his 50-minute speech. But they cooled and applause grew sparse as he turned his ire on virtually every political current, from market reformers to Communists to the leaders of restive regions and republics.

The 75-year-old writer, who crossed Russia by train last summer after 20 years in exile, cast himself Friday as a messenger from the suffering people.

But some in the audience of the Duma, Parliament's lower house, wondered whether the Nobel laureate wasn't as out of touch with the Russian people as the politicians he condemned.

Solzhenitsyn ran through the painful changes that have accompanied Russia's post-Soviet turn toward capitalism: crime, inflation, industrial decline, poor health, the dominance of the U.S. dollar.

"Russia is emerging from communism on the most twisted, painful and awkward path," he said.

Solzhenitsyn shouted often and gesticulated dramatically. The country, he argued, is still run by Soviet " nomenklatura turncoats disguised as democrats."

"We must admit honestly, this is not a democracy. Now we have an oligarchy, since the power belongs to a limited number of people," he said.

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