08 June 2005

Solzhenitsyn speaks

In his first interview in the past three years with the Vesti Nedeli TV program on Russia's Channel Two, Solzhenitsyn, 88, said Russia was not a democratic country yet.

"We have had no democracy. I said it many times that we have nothing remotely similar to democracy," he said.

According to Solzhenitsyn, "many speakers play with the word 'democracy' in our country, declining it and hastily bringing to light its separate features, instead of democracy itself." He said there is freedom of expression and the press in Russia, "but it is only one of democratic signs," said Solzhenitsyn. "One sign does not mean democracy," the writer said.

He said the key to democratic success in Western countries was organizing the work of local self-government. "We are so impressed with Western democracies because their local self-government is very efficient," said Solzhenitsyn.

He stressed that "democracy cannot be imposed from above, by clever laws or wise politicians."

"It [democracy] must not be forced [upon people] like a cap. Democracy can only grow upwards, like a plant. Democracy must begin at the local level, within the local self-government. Only then can it develop further," said the writer.
Read the rest here. (Via Maud Newton)

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