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Writer Solzhenitsyn criticizes Russia's political system and US policy

MOSCOW, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a writer and winner of the Nobel Prize, is critical of the political system in Russia and the CIS, and the US policy.

In his first interview in the past three years with the Vesti Nedeli TV program on Russia's Channel Two, Solzhenitsyn, 88, said Russia was not a democratic country yet.

"We have had no democracy. I said it many times that we have nothing remotely similar to democracy," he said.

According to Solzhenitsyn, "many speakers play with the word 'democracy' in our country, declining it and hastily bringing to light its separate features, instead of democracy itself." He said there is freedom of expression and the press in Russia, "but it is only one of democratic signs," said Solzhenitsyn. "One sign does not mean democracy," the writer said.

He said the key to democratic success in Western countries was organizing the work of local self-government. "We are so impressed with Western democracies because their local self-government is very efficient," said Solzhenitsyn.

He stressed that "democracy cannot be imposed from above, by clever laws or wise politicians."

"It [democracy] must not be forced [upon people] like a cap. Democracy can only grow upwards, like a plant. Democracy must begin at the local level, within the local self-government. Only then can it develop further," said the writer.

In this context, Solzhenitsyn slammed the US policy, saying that over ten years ago, the US "launched an absurd project to impose democracy all over the world." "The US has a strange idea of democracy - they first interfered with the Bosnian situation, bombed Yugoslavia, then Afghanistan, and then Iraq." "Who is next, perhaps, Iran?" the writer wonders. "The US must understand that democracy cannot be introduced by force, by the army," he said.

According to Solzhenitsyn, instead of true democracy, Russia now has "a political class." "It includes several hundred people who said - I am a professional politician and I will do politics," said the writer.

Solzhenitsyn spoke against parliamentary elections using party lists and against parties in general. He said, "any party undermines individuality. It squeezes people into its program or its charter."

When commenting on the CIS situation, he said it was even more complicated than in Russia. He also said, "it is not Russia's business to foster CIS countries." "We [should] be the best to set an example. We need to cure ourselves first," said Solzhenitsyn.

Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970. He became famous in the West after the release of his novels First Circle and Gulag Archipelago exposing Stalin's purges. In 1984, he was forced to leave the Soviet Union. In August 1990, Solzhenitsyn retrieved his Soviet citizenship and returned to Russia in May 1994.

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