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Solzhenitsyn backs Orthodox call that disputes Western ‘freedom’

Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, for many years a dissident against Soviet communism, has defended an Orthodox church-sponsored document calling for a new concept of human rights to counter Western notions of freedom said to lack "moral norms".

"Limitless human rights are what our cave-dwelling ancestor already had – nothing prevented him from depriving his neighbour of prey or finishing him off with a cudgel," Solzhenitsyn told the Moskovskiye Novosti weekly newspaper. "Even to call for self-restraint is considered ridiculous and funny. However, it is only self-restraint that offers a moral and reliable way out of any conflict."

The 87-year-old writer was reacting to a "Declaration on Human Rights and Dignity" adopted by the tenth World Russian People’s Council, which met at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour basilica from 4 to 6 April and was chaired by Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow.

The document said the world faced "a conflict between civilisations with different understandings of the human being".  It stated it was unacceptable to use human rights "to legitimise behaviour condemned by both the traditional morality and historical religions".

Solzhenitsyn said the director of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, Metropolitan Kirill, had been right to assert that personal freedoms should not "threaten the fatherland" or be used to "insult religious and national feelings".

He added, "If Russia were to join the North Atlantic Alliance, which is engaged in propaganda and forcibly inculcating the ideology and practices of today’s Western democracy in various parts of the planet, it would lead not to an expansion, but to a decline, of Christian civilisation."

The human rights declaration said Russians rejected "the policy of double standards with regard to human rights," as well as "attempts to use them for imposing a particular socio-political system."

Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970. His books include "The Gulag Archipelago" a factual account of Stalin’s terror for which he was exiled to the West in 1974. He returned to Russia in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has often defended Orthodox tradition against Western popular culture. 

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Photo : Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn