San Fransisco Chronicle

More Opening

March 23, 1989

The increasing apertures in Soviet life that reflect the reality of glasnost seem either to blaze into view, or pass subtly into the stream of life, almost unnoticeable to the casual observer. A candidate for office who adopts America’s glad-hand style. That’s noisily remarkable. Reporters who dig hard for investigative facts and possible scandal: Palpably unusual.

A recent article in an obscure little Moscow magazine, an essay entitled “Live Not By Lies,” carried comparable impact despite its sleepy, restrictive venue. For it was the first appearance since the 1960s in any sanctioned literary organ of the Soviet Union’s greatest cultural outcast, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

There is some debate about how official the publication was. But the fact remains that something extraordinary has happened. Solzhenitsyn stands as both an uncompromising conscience to the Soviet political psyche and as heroic witness to past crimes. If this modest article signals he will eventually be freely, then the life of the mind in Russia has been immeasurably enriched.