New York Times

Wife Prepares Solzhenitsyn Return To Russia

December 23, 1992
By Celestine Bohlen

Moscow, May 22--Natalya Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia today 17 years after she and her husband, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the writer, dissident, and Nobel laureate, were forcibly expelled from the Soviet Union.

Now the Soviet is gone, but Mr. Solzhenitsyn, a man of towering stature both here and abroad, has yet to come back home. But when Mrs. Solzhenitsyn arrived today at Sheremetyero Airport, with two of the couple’s three sons, made clear that her main mission was to set the stage for her husband’s own dramatic homecoming from the United States.

“He will return by all means,” Mrs. Solzhenitsyn said at a brief meeting with the press at the airport’s V.I.P. lounge. “It has been decided. It will be a very serious step. He thinks, and he is right, that it will be the last move of his life, and it should be well prepared.”

“This is what we have been living for all these years in exile,” she said, after being greeted with flowers and embraces by a small crowd of friends, official and unofficial. “Our main purpose is to come to our motherland.”

Mr. Solzhenitsyn, whose Soviet citizenship was restored in 1990, has repeatedly said he would not return to Russia until all his books were published here first. Last year he made his first foray into politics with an essay arguing for restoration of a Greater Russia that would bind Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, without the other former Soviet republics.
Since then, his own prophecy, which came true briefly last December with the agreement among the Slavic republics, has been swept aside by the rapid disintegration of the old Soviet empire, and heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

On this monthlong trip, Mrs. Solzhenitsyn said she would work to register the Russian Social Fund, a human rights foundation endowed with royalties from Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.”

“This is the first and most important task--to legalize the foundation in Russia and find premises for it,” she said.
But another task is to find a new home for the Solzhenitsyn family, who have spent their years in exile in the cloistered atmosphere of a 50-acre estate in Cavendish, Vermont. Mrs. Solzhenitsyn said her husband would prefer a dacha to an apartment in the city.

“He has never lived in a city, and he doesn’t want to, he can’t,” she said.