The Boston Globe

Solzhenitsyn Regains Soviet Citizenship

August 17, 1990

MOSCOW- Preseident Mikhail S. Gorbachev, apologizing for two decades of political repression, has restored the citizenship of exiled writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and 22 other literary, scientific and cultural figures, officials said yesterday.

In addition to Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel laureate charged with treason in 1974, Gorbachez’s presidential decree returns citizenship to chess champion Victor Korchnoi; writers Vasilly Akaysyonov, Vladimir and Valeri Tarsis, who died in exile in 1983; scientists Yuri Orlov and Valeri Chalidze; and artist Oakar Rabin, Soviet media reporter.

The names of the other 12 were not announced. There had been speculations that the list would include writer Joseph Brodsky, a Nobel Prize laureate who emigrated to the United States in 1972 under threat of imprisonment for his dissidence.

The full list of writers, academics and musicians deprived of citizenship between 1966-88 and regaining it under Wednesday’s presidential decree will be published later this month, said a spokesman for Gorbachev.

“These political repressions were justifiable condemned in this country, and I believe it is now our duty to, if you pleas, absolve the guilt before our countrymen,” said Gennady Cheremnykh, head of the citizenship and pardoning department of the Supreme Soviet’s Secretariat.

“The decree is a conveyance of apologies of sorts. Although it is belated, it is an apology,” he said in an interview with the government daily Izvestia.

Cheremnykh said 175 Soviet were stripped of their citizenship from 1966-88. About 60 of them are Armenians who emigrated to the United States and Canada. The rest are dissidents, he said.

Under Leonid I. Brezhnev, the Kremlin revoked the citizenship of prominent authors and performing artists who spoke out against repression. Their works were barred from appearing in their homeland.

Citizenship revocation orders were routinely signed by Brezhnev himself, reflecting the level of revulsion felt by the leadership toward their dissident views.

The practice continued during Gorbachev’s first three years in office, but he later abandoned it. In individual decrees, he has restored the citizenship of a number of them, notably the cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, singer Galina Vishnecskaya; dissident historian Zhores Medvedev; and theater director Yuri Lyubimov. Of these, only Lyubimov had returned to live in the Soviet Union.

No conditions were put on those identified yesterday.