The Nobel Prize-winning writer gave voice to millions imprisoned in Stalin's Gulag. He died Sunday.
The Russian media erupted Monday with praise for Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning writer whose stormy life reflected Russia's 20th-century vicissitudes almost as dramatically as his own literary work.
"Until the end of his days he fought for Russia, not only to move away from its totalitarian past but also to have a worthy future, to become a truly free and democratic country. We owe him a lot," the independent Interfax agency quoted the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, as saying.
It was Mr. Gorbachev's campaign of sweeping democratic reforms that made possible the restoration of Solzhenitsyn's Soviet citizenship and publication of his works in the twilight days of the USSR.
"He was one of the first people who spoke up about the inhumanity of Stalin's regime with a full voice, and about the people who lived through this but were not broken," Gorbachev added.
Solzhenitsyn was an irreconcilable opponent of the communist system but also vigorously rejected American consumerism and pop culture. He ended his days a fierce critic of the path taken by post-Soviet Russia.
Widely viewed as Russia's greatest contemporary writer, he will be best remembered for works that depicted the harsh underbelly of Soviet society under dictator Joseph Stalin. But his books, including several works of nonfiction, suggest the far more ambitious goals of seeking to reappraise Russian history.