K'Ehleyr6 August 2008 at 4:19amPosts: 8422 (0 today)Status: offline
Russian writer and dissident Solzhenitsyn to be buried in Moscow
MOSCOW (AFP) - Renowned Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn was to be buried at Moscow's historic Donskoy Monastery on Wednesday, following a wake that drew hundreds of mourners the day before.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was planning to attend the funeral, a Kremlin spokesman told AFP.
Wednesday's ceremonies were to begin with a Russian Orthodox liturgy at 9:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) followed by a burial service at 11:00 a.m (0700 GMT), the Interfax news agency reported, citing a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman.
Solzhenitsyn selected the burial spot at Donskoy Monastery five years ago and received special sanction for it from Patriarch Alexy II, a church official told AFP, calling the cemetery a "very honourable place."
The 16th-century monastery is the final resting place of several other prominent anti-communists who lived in exile and were reburied there after the collapse of the Soviet Union, such as anti-Bolshevik general Anton Denikin.
Solzhenitsyn, who shook the foundations of Soviet rule with his devastating accounts of Stalin's prison camps, died at his home on Sunday aged 89.
Medvedev led tributes by world leaders to the writer on Monday, with a condolence telegram to his family in which he praised "one of the greatest thinkers, writers and humanists of the 20th century."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Soviet Union's last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, were among the politicians who also honoured the writer.
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 and was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 after authorities found a manuscript of "The Gulag Archipelago," his exhaustively researched study of Stalin's camps.
His spectacular return to his homeland in 1994 proved something of an anti-climax. The new Russia was as alien to Solzhenitsyn as the United States had been, a finding he shared with audiences in gloomy televised harangues.
The author eventually retired into seclusion to focus on his writing, and was rarely seen during his final years.
In 2007, then-president Vladimir Putin awarded Solzhenitsyn the State Prize, Russia's highest honour, prompting criticism that the author had grown too close to the Kremlin.