Exiled Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn has warned that the policy of detente -- friendlier relations between the Soviet Union and western countries -- was a "self deception".
CU Solzhenitsyn (SILENT)
CUs Solzhenitsyn interviewed
SOLZHENITSYN: "I don't understand at all why Bertrand Russell said that. Why did he not say it would be better to be brown than dead? All my life and the life of my generation, the life of those who share my views, we all have one standpoint -- better to be dead than a scoundrel. In this horrible expression of Bertrand Russell there is an absence of all moral criteria. In the short term these words allow one to continue to enjoy life, but in the long term it will undoubtedly destroy those people who think like that. It's a terrible thought. I thank you for quoting it as a striking example."
CHARLTON: "Would you agree that the alternatives that you propose are likely to be a return to something like the tensions of the Stalin-Khrushchev period?"
SOLZHENITSYN: "I would like to emphasise that you think that this is a respite. But this is an imaginary respite. It's a respite before destruction. As for us we have no respite at all. We are being strangled even more with greater determination. You recall the tension of the fifties. Despite that tension you conceded nothing. But today you don't have to be a strategist to understand why Angola is being taken. What for? This is one of the most recent positions from which to wage world war most successfully, a wonderful position in the Atlantic. The Soviet armed forces have already overtaken the West in many respects, and in other respects they are on the point of overtaking them. The navy -- Britain used to have a navy. Not it is the Soviet Union that has a navy, control of the seas, bases. You may call this detente if you like but after Angola I just can't understand how one's tongue can utter this word. Your defence minister has said that after Helsinki the Soviet Union is passing the test. I don't know how many countries have still to be taken. Maybe the Soviet tanks have to come to London for your defence minister to say at last that the Soviet Union has finally passed the test. You will be sitting the exam. I think there's no such thing as detente. Detente is necessary but detente with open hands. Show that there is no stone in your hands but your partners with whom you are conducting detente have a stone in their hands and it is so heavy that it could kill you with one single blow. Detente becomes self deception. That's what it's all about."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Exiled Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn has warned that the policy of detente -- friendlier relations between the Soviet Union and western countries -- was a "self deception". Mr. Solzhenitsyn made the remark on British television in an interview on Monday (1 March).
Mr. Solzhenitsyn said that detente was necessary, "but detente with open hands ... your partners with whom you are conducting detente, have a stone in their hands and it is so heavy that it could kill you with one single blow".
He said that the Soviet armed forces had already overtaken the West in many respects, and in others were on the point of overtaking them.
"The navy --Britain used to have a navy. Now it is the Soviet Union that has a navy, control of the seas, bases," Mr. Solzhenitsyn added.
He also criticised Britain's Defence Minister, Mr. Roy Mason, for saying that after Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in Helsinki, Finland, the Soviet Union was passing the test. Mr. Solzhenitsyn pointed out that the Soviet Union was responsible for the fall of western-backed forces in Angola.
"I don't know how many countries have still to be taken. Maybe the Soviet tanks have to come to London for your defence minister to say at last that the Soviet Union has passed the test."
A member of Britain's House of Lords, Lord George-Brown, once Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, resigned the day after the interview and he gave Solzhenitsyn's remarks as one of the reasons for his resignation. He said the time had come for people "to stand up and be counted if they want to keep democracy". His resignation was precipitated by the defeat of an amendment to proposed legislation affecting press freedom.
The film contains part of the interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The questions are in English, with Mr. Solzhenitsyn's replies in Russian. The commentary also includes a translation of the replies. Transcript follows: