Is Solzhenitsyn too old to be interviewed or taken seriously anymore? I vote for yes.
RFE/RL: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said in an interview on July 23 that he recently accepted a State Award for lifetime humanitarian achievement from Pres Putin, after declining similar honors in the past, because the State Award was proposed by a group of "leading experts". Solzhenitsyn said of Putin's secret service background that "he was an officer of the intelligence services, but he was not a KGB investigator, nor was he the head of a camp in the Gulag.
As for service in foreign intelligence agencies, that is not a negative in any country -- sometimes it even draws praise. George Bush Sr. was not much criticized for being the ex-head of the CIA, for example." Solzhenitsyn charged that in unnamed former communist countries, "the new generation is only too happy to voice grievances and level accusations, with present-day Moscow a convenient target. They behave as if they heroically liberated themselves and lead a new life now, while Moscow has remained communist. Nevertheless, I dare hope that this unhealthy phase will soon be over." He said Russia will need "time and experience" to develop democracy, but argued that Putin has been a far better president than his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.
Solzhenitsyn believes the "worship" of the West that characterized the Yeltsin years began to change in 1999 because of "the cruel NATO bombings of Serbia." He charged Western countries with being cynical and hypocritical in their dealings with Russia. He also suggested that the US rejected Moscow's "helping hand" after September 11, 2001, and that Europe's policy toward Russia is driven by "fears about energy." Solzhenitsyn argued that the West will need Russia as an ally in the future and is unwise to spurn its offers of cooperation now.