Solzhenitsyn's son calls on Russians to fix country's ills

15th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The son of Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn has taken after his dissident father in calling on Russians to act to improve "awful" conditions in their country, in an article published Friday.

Painting a picture of the chronic problems in Russia and denouncing its "negative" values such as money-grabbing, Ermolay Solzhenitsyn called for the development of civil society.

"Russia ranks 50th to 60th in the world in terms of quality of life," he said in his opinion piece in the business daily Vedomosti where he cited a litany of disturbing statistics.

"Some of the statistics are awful: we are 50th in mortality, first in the number of abortions, sixth in suicides, second in alcohol consumption."

He added that "the responsiblity lies not only with those in power but also with society."

The son of the Nobel literature winner, who was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and lived in exile in the United States until his return in 1994, said Russia lacked "socially active" citizens and criticised "the extreme passivity and paternalism" that permeated the population.

He advised Russians to "come up with solutions and put them to work without going through Moscow" and "not to give or accept bribes" in a strong denunciation of corruption in Russian society.

The newspaper piece was a first for Ermolay Solzhenitsyn.

His famous father died in 2008, the author of "The Gulag Archipelago" that exposed the horror of Soviet prisons he was hailed as the conscience of the 20th century.

He was also a strong critic of the consumerism in Western societies.

© 2011 AFP

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