He Has A Messiah Complex, And His Ideas Could Lead To War

Posted: June 13, 1994

MOSCOW — I am of two minds about Alexander Solzhenitsyn's return to Russia. One part of me is very heartened that he has come back. I know that writers and dissidents will welcome him home.

But another part of me is worried that his return brings with it many dangers - not only for Russia but for the world. I often visit Washington and New York. Two months ago, I talked with Solzhenitsyn in the United States. I asked him: "Do you plan to return to Russia?" He said, "Yes."

I'm very glad he decided to come back. The power of writers is now not so great in Russia as it once was. Now, some powers in Russia would like to use Solzhenitsyn's return as some kind of political game to gain themselves personal advantage. But I'm sure Solzhenitsyn won't be a pawn in the hands of political leaders.

The return of Solzhenitsyn is very important to our country, but it's even more important for Solzhenitsyn himself. It must have been very difficult for him to write outside his country - away from the people and language he had known all his life.

I'm 44, and for my generation Solzhenitsyn was for many years the voice of democratic Russia. He was our leader not only in literature but in life.

But these days my generation is afraid he will become one of the leaders of the group that will fight against democratic reforms. We fear he is going to be a leader of those supporting the Russian nationalist position - which really scares us. From what I know about his current activities, what he stands for may lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths. He has called for reuniting the old Soviet Union. That will mean civil war - absolutely.

Solzhenitsyn started his journey, once back in Russia, not in Moscow but the Far East. He is going all over Russia, attracting big crowds. What matters is what kinds of ideas he spreads. He must decide if he is a messiah or a writer. He does have a messiah complex. He has to decide whether he wants to write some real book in the future or play messiah.

What will happen if he plays the messiah? It depends. Will the opposition join him or will he join the opposition? If he joins the opposition, we may have war.

In many newspapers in Russia, articles are being published opposing Solzhenitsyn, his ideas and his speeches. But there also are many Russians who support Solzhenitsyn and the positions he advocates.

It's impossible to predict precisely what will happen, but my colleagues and I seriously fear that war could break out if Solzhenitsyn pursues his idea of bringing about a reunification of the old Soviet Union. If anyone should recognize the dangers of bringing back that form of government, it should be Solzhenitsyn. But all indications are that he does not.

This country - including the territory of the old Soviet Union - makes up one-sixth of the world. It has 290 million people. It has nuclear weapons. A civil war here could mean a world war. And that could mean the destruction of the world.

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