Writer Solzhenitsyn Lived in Fear After Exile
SOVIET DISSIDENT writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn (pictured) lived in fear of the KGB for years after his exile from the Soviet Union – even as the FBI was secretly watching him, newly disclosed documents reveal.
The Nobel Prize-winning author’s FBI file shows that the U.S. law enforcement agency closely, but quietly monitored Solzhenitsyn for years, knowing the discovery of its surveillance would lead to political repercussions.
Solzhenitsyn, perhaps best known for writing “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” which chronicled the brutality of Stalin’s labor camps, died in 2008 at age 89.
The NYCity News Service obtained the FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows certain documents to be released after the subject’s death. The FBI did not release all the documents in the file, citing national security issues and concerns about revealing sources. Forty-two pages were deleted and 46 pages were redacted.
The 95-page file shows FBI tracked the Nobel Laureate from 1968, the time of his first major protests against the Soviet regime, then followed his banishment and continued until 1976, as he settled in the U.S.
A 1975 memo circulated in the FBI cautioned that investigating a prominent individual such as Solzhenitsyn could be politically sensitive. The documents instructed agents to limit coverage to established sources to minimize the risk of being discovered.
Documents show the FBI tracked Solzhenitsyn on a 1975 visit to a Russian Orthodox monastery in Oregon. The author wanted the visit kept confidential because he feared the KGB would learn of the trip. The files include a copy of Solzhenitsyn’s temporary visa to the U.S. and details about his travel plans to Canada in search for an “Old Believer,” or a Russian Orthodox community, where he could settle.
There is no evidence he knew the FBI was monitoring him, though, a 1976 memo notes that Solzhenitsyn did not trust the U.S. State Department, and preferred using unofficial channels to make his travel plans rather than getting approvals from the U.S. agency.
The FBI monitored him using undisclosed sources who reported on his activities, relying on reports from local authorities and tracking news accounts of his activities…