The deportation of Solzhenitsyn, 13 February 1974 (32.1)

<<No 32 : 17 July 1974>>

On 13 February 1974, after a prolonged and large-scale persecution campaign in the press, Alexander Isayevich SOLZHENITSYN was deported from the Soviet Union. The immediate cause was the publication of his GULag Archipelago by the YMCA Press (CCE 30.16).[1]

The circumstances surrounding the publication of this book, as well as the events following it, are described in detail in the samizdat collection “Live not by the Lie”. The collection has been in fairly wide circulation, and so the Chronicle will confine itself to presenting the main course of events.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1918-2008


At the end of August 1973, after five days of interrogation in the Leningrad offices of the KGB, 70-year-old E.D. Voronyanskaya revealed the place where a copy of A. I. Solzhenitsyn’s GULag Archipelago was being kept. If the KGB report on the case of Professor Etkind is to be believed (this issue, CCE 32.14), Voronyanskaya also disclosed that Solzhenitsyn had transmitted two copies of the “GULag” manuscript to her through Etkind.[2]

Shortly after, E. D. Voronyanskaya committed suicide.


“With a feeling of inner frustration I refrained for years from releasing this completed book, my duty to those still living outweighed my duty to those who had perished. But now that the State Security has, notwithstanding, got hold of the book, I have no alternative but to publish it immediately.”

A. Solzhenitsyn
September 1973


In December 1973 the YMCA Press published the book in Paris.

The first articles about the publication in Soviet newspapers appeared at the beginning of January. Initially these were extracts from the foreign press and TASS statements.

The TASS threats perturbed many people. On 5 January 1974, Vladimir Voinovich, Alexander Galich, Vladimir Maximov, Andrei Sakharov, and Igor Shafarevich issued an appeal for the defence of Solzhenitsyn.

On 13 January 1974, the newspaper Pravda published an article by Solovyov, “The Path of Treachery”. It became a guiding document: practically all the central and local newspapers reprinted the article. Subsequently the newspapers printed comments in response to Solovyov’s article.

In an interview given to American television on 25 June 1974 Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke, among other things, about a deal proposed to him by the authorities. They had promised Solzhenitsyn that they would print Cancer Ward in the USSR in exchange for his undertaking not to publish The GULag Archipelago for a period of 20 years [Chronicle‘s note].

On 18 January 1974 Solzhenitsyn made a statement in which, with characteristic passion, he pointed out that the Soviet press had distorted the facts and presented false interpretations. Amongst other things, Solzhenitsyn wrote:

“To which pages can they point, from which volume? Literaturnaya gazeta has been caught red-handed: it quotes from the seized copy, from the fourth and fifth parts of ‘GULag’, which have not yet been published. So it was in State Security that the suspect “Litterateur” copied his extracts!”

Meanwhile the first reactions to the work and the first statements of indignation regarding the press persecution appeared in samizdat. There was an article (in translation) by Heinrich Böll about the work’s publication, “It is Necessary to Go Further and Further”, and a wide-ranging review by Roy Medvedev.

The following made written protests, individually and collectively:

B. Mikhailov, Yevgeny Barabanov, Vladimir Borisov, Boris Shragin, Lydia Chukovskaya, V. Dolgy, Gusyakova, V. Zaitsev, I. Ovchinnikov, Vladimir Osipov, V. Repnikov, V. Rodionov, and Mikhail Agursky.


On 8 February 1974, an attempt was made to deliver a summons to Solzhenitsyn’s wife Natalya Svetlova, summoning her husband to the USSR Procuracy, but Svetlova refused to accept it. On 11 February the summons was repeated.


in reply to its repeated summons.

Given the unending and general lawlessness which has reigned for many years in our country (and has affected me personally in the form of an eight- year campaign of slander and persecution), I refuse to recognize the legality of your summons and will not appear for interrogation at any state institution.

Before demanding that citizens obey the law, learn to execute it yourselves.

Free the innocent from imprisonment. Punish the perpetrators of the mass exterminations and the authors of the false denunciations. Punish the administrators and the special detachments which carried out genocide (the deportation of whole peoples). Deprive today the local and departmental satraps of their limitless power over citizens, of their controlling sway over law courts and psychiatrists. Satisfy the millions of lawful, yet suppressed statements of complaint.

A. Solzhenitsyn
11 February


At five o’clock in the evening on 12 February 1974 eight men burst into Solzhenitsyn‘s flat, led by a senior counsellor of justice, Zverev. A decision empowering them to take Solzhenitsyn to the Procuracy was shown to him. One of the participants in the operation assured his wife that Alexander lsayevich would soon return.

Solzhenitsyn was led away, but two ‘guests’ stayed in the flat, took up posts by the door and the telephone, and remained there for about half an hour.

It is no more than ten minutes’ walk from Solzhenitsyn’s home to the USSR Procuracy, so already at this point the writer’s family suspected that he had not been taken to the Procuracy.


“Statement of A. Solzhenitsyn, written by him beforehand, for use in the event of arrest.

“In advance I declare as incompetent any criminal trial of Russian literature, of a single book of it, of any Russian author. If such a trial is prescribed for myself, I shall not go there on my own two feet — they will deliver me there in a Black Maria, with my arms twisted behind me. I shall not answer a single question at such a trial. Sentenced to imprisonment, I shall not submit to the sentence except in handcuffs. In imprisonment itself, having already lost my best eight years to forced labour for the state, and contracted cancer in the process, I shall not work for the oppressors even half an hour more.

“In this way I leave open for them the straightforward option of overt tyrants: to bump me off quickly for writing the truth about Russian history.”


At nine o’clock in the evening it became known that Alexander Solzhenitsyn had been arrested.


… The fifth act of the drama has begun.

Shame on the country that allows its greatness and its glory to be abused. Wretchedness on the country whose tongue they tear out with tongs.

Misery on the nation which is deceived.

Blessing and support to the man who now, rudely separated from family and friends, slandered before his people, is — yes now, at this very minute! — conducting his silent duel with the lawless violence.

Lydia Chukovskaya
noon, 12 February 1974


On the evening of 12 February in Lefortovo Prison Solzhenitsyn was charged with treason (Article 64, RSFSR Criminal Code). The charge was signed by the senior counsellor of justice Zverev; Deputy Procurator-general of the USSR Malyarov was present when the charge was presented.


On the day after the arrest, 13 February 1974, the “Moscow Appeal” appeared.

Its authors, Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner, Vladimir Maximov, Mikhail Agursky, Boris Shragin, Pavel Litvinov, Yury Orlov, Father Sergy Zheludkov, Anatoly Marchenko and Larisa Bogoraz, demanded:

  • That The GULag Archipelago be published in the USSR and made available to every compatriot;
  • That archival and other materials be published which would give a full picture of the activity of the Cheka, NKVD and MGB [Previous titles of the KGB].
  • That an international public tribunal be set up to investigate the crimes perpetrated;
  • That Solzhenitsyn be protected from persecution and allowed to work in his homeland.
  • The authors of the “Moscow Appeal” called for national committees to be set up in various countries to collect signatures in support of the appeal.


At 1 pm on 13 February, in a solitary-confinement cell of Lefortovo Prison, Malyarov read Solzhenitsyn a Decree “Depriving him of his Soviet citizenship”. On the same day he was forcibly deported from the Soviet Union to the Federal Republic of Germany.

After the deportation the campaign flared up in the Soviet press with new vigour and lasted another week.


On 14 February Malva Landa published [in samizdat] her support for the “Moscow Appeal”.

On 17 February a letter supporting the “Moscow Appeal” was published by Yevgeny Barabanov, Tatyana Velikanova, Sergei Kovalyov, Tatyana Khodorovich, and Vladimir Borisov. Pointing to the attempts of Soviet newspapers to represent Western commentators and certain celebrities in the West as supporters of Solzhenitsyn’s deportation, the authors write:

“Will the free world really reconcile itself to the presentation of another falsification of its views to a deceived and confused people? . . . What is described in Solzhenitsyn’s book . . . involves a portion of blame for the West too. . . . Is it not time to recognize with full responsibility that by exploiting the separateness of our worlds and exploiting our mutual lack of information they are turning you into accomplices? . . . The solidarity of people cannot be limited to words. It must be effective. In this lies our hope.”

Later the following people associated themselves with the “Moscow Appeal”: E. S. Andronova, L. Aptekar, Vyacheslav Bakhmin, N.Ya. Joffe, Olga Joffe, Irina Kaplun, Alexander Lavut, Anatoly Levitin (Krasnov), Grigory Podyapolsky, Sergei Khodorovich, and L. Tymchuk.

According to the writer Vladimir Maximov, 50,000 people in the Federal German Republic and West Berlin have associated themselves with the “Moscow Appeal”.


On 30 March Solzhenitsyn’s family left the USSR. A letter by his wife was made public.

In bidding farewell to her friends in this letter, she said with confidence that Alexander Isayevich, she herself and their children would return.



[1] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: An experiment in literary investigation. Parts 1 and 2 (1918-56), YMCA Press: Paris, 1973. Published in Russian. (French and English translations appeared in 1974.)

[2] Memorandum from the KGB (see “In the Moscow Writers’ Organisation”, CCE 32.14, p. 74)

“Etkind came to the notice of the KGB in 1969; he has known Solzhenitsyn for over ten years, met him frequently, given him practical help, and kept libellous works at his own home, including GULag Archipelago. He knew Voronyanskaya through Solzhenitsyn. . . . Voronyanskaya testified at an interrogation: ‘Solzhenitsyn came to Leningrad in 1971; he handed two copies of ‘GULag Archipelago’ to Etkind, and later Etkind personally brought them to me
at my home’ . . .

“In the summer of 1970 Voronyanskaya stayed at Etkind’s country cottage …”

[3] For an exchange between Andropov and Brezhnev about Solzhenitsyn‘s expulsion from the USSR, see 7 February 1974 letter in the Bukovsky Archive.