Solzhenitsyn on the Ukrainian Problem

Published on May 28, June 2014 (Source:

In The Gulag Archipelago, the Nobel laureate wrote: “With Ukraine, things will get extremely painful.”

Even during Soviet times, Alexander Solzhenitsyn prophetically did not rule out the idea that Ukraine may break away, although “a referendum may be required for each region”, given the Bolshevik way of lumping together lands that had never historically belonged to Ukraine.

The Gulag Archipelago, Part 5, Chapter 2
… It pains me to write this as Ukraine and Russia are merged in my blood, in my heart, and in my thoughts. But extensive experience of friendly contacts with Ukrainians in the camps has shown me how much of a painful grudge they hold. Our generation will not escape from paying for the mistakes of our fathers.

To stamp one’s foot and shout: “This is mine!” is the easiest option. It is far more difficult to say: “Those who want to live, live!” Surprising as it may be, the Marxist teaching prediction that nationalism is fading has not come true. On the contrary, in an age of nuclear research and cybernetics, it has for some reason flourished. And time is coming for us, whether we like it or not, to repay all the promissory notes of self-determination and independence; do it ourselves rather than wait to be burnt at the stake, drowned in a river or beheaded. We must prove whether we are a great nation not with the vastness of our territory or the number of peoples in our care but with the greatness of our deeds. And with the depth of ploughing what we shall have left after those lands that will not want to stay with us secede.

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