At a time when American and European officials are repeatedly questioning Mr Putin's commitment to democracy, Solzhenitsyn said: "Present-day western democracy is in a serious state of crisis." He said Russia should not "thoughtlessly imitate" these democracies but look after its own people.
He might be on to something...
Yesterday's interview touched on a burning issue in Russia, that of the growing xenophobia that has led to dozens of attacks on foreigners so far this month, at least six of which were fatal. He warned against condemning all nationalism: a little was needed, he said, to stop ethnic Russians from dying out.
For me, Solzhenitsyn's observations are a reminder of why being consistent matters. As the article highlights, the West's support of democracy in Russia and the Newly Independent States was inconsistent at the very best. I see a connection between his (self-) defense of Russia and various current geopolitical policy debates. Too much moralizing about democracy without consistent action leads many to mistrust...or worse.
Wouldn't it be good if one of the bravest voices against oppression was on "our" side?
More thoughts on the "hypocrisy of international allegiances" and why you punish Belarus, lunch with Azerbaijan and bring out the pipers and drummers for China from Friday's Guardian.