The court will consider the claim to dismantle the monument to Solzhenitsyn in Vladivostok

The court will consider the claim to dismantle the monument to Solzhenitsyn in Vladivostok

A court in Vladivostok will consider a lawsuit filed by a Tynda resident against the city authorities demanding that the installation of a monument to the writer, Nobel Prize laureate and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn be declared illegal. The plaintiff believes that the sculpture installed in the center of the capital of Primorye must be dismantled, since it is dedicated to a “controversial figure.” Previously, local Communist Party activist Maxim Shinkarenko demanded that the monument to Mr. Solzhenitsyn in Vladivostok be removed, but the city authorities refused to do so.

The Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok registered an administrative claim by a resident of Tynda against the administration and the Duma of the regional center demanding the dismantling of the monument to the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “The administrative plaintiff has filed demands to recognize the illegal installation of the image of A. I. Solzhenitsyn as a small architectural form, and to impose on the Vladivostok city administration the obligation to dismantle the sculpture,” it says in the message United press service of the judicial system of the Primorsky Territory. Preparations for the trial are scheduled for October 5. The press service explained that the plaintiff, in support of his claims, pointed out that “Solzhenitsyn is a controversial figure in modern Russia.”

Soviet writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was accused of treason in February 1974, deprived of Soviet citizenship and expelled from the USSR. After that, he lived and worked in the USA. In May 1994 he returned to Russia, flying from the USA to Magadan, and then to Vladivostok. From the capital of Primorye, Alexander Solzhenitsyn went to Moscow by train. In 2006, Mr. Solzhenitsyn was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation “for outstanding achievements in the field of humanitarian work.” The writer died in Moscow in 2008 at the age of 89. Two years later, Vladimir Putin ordered that Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” be included in the school curriculum. “Without knowing what is stated here, we will not have a complete picture of our country, and we will hardly be able to think about the future,” Mr. Putin explained then.

A monument to Nobel Prize winner in literature and dissident Solzhenitsyn was erected on Korabelnaya Embankment in Vladivostok in September 2015. Within a few days, local Communist Party activist Maxim Shinkarenko placed a cardboard sign with an offensive inscription on the neck of the monument. He explained his action by saying that “Solzhenitsyn is a traitor to his country, an anti-Soviet and a Russophobe.” The police opened an administrative case regarding the incident. Maxim Shinkarenko was charged with petty hooliganism (Article 20.1 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation), but then the court closed the case “for lack of corpus delicti.” In 2021, already in the status of a deputy of the Vladivostok Duma (convocation 2017–22), he sent an appeal to Mayor Shestakov about the need to demolish the monument to Solzhenitsyn, but the city authorities refused to satisfy this demand. “Dismantling the monument is inappropriate, since it is popular among tourists and city residents,” a representative of the mayor’s office explained to reporters at the time.

The Vladivostok mayor's office has not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit. The mayor of the city, Konstantin Shestakov, did not respond to Kommersant’s request asking him to state the administration’s position. Vice-speaker of the Duma of the capital of Primorye, United Russia member Dmitry Novikov, believes that the monument to Solzhenitsyn “should remain in its place.”

“Solzhenitsyn is a great thinker of the 20th century and did a lot for our country,” Mr. Novikov told Kommersant, clarifying that he was giving his personal point of view.

“I have not changed my position; there should be no monuments to Solzhenitsyn, a man who slandered our country and spread fables about millions of repressed people,” Mr. Shinkarenko, in turn, told Kommersant.

“Alexander Solzhenitsyn has always been a very controversial figure,” Primorye political scientist Viktor Burlakov noted in a conversation with Kommersant. “And if there are those who believe that he deserved a monument, then a significant part of society adheres to the opposite point of view.”

Alexey Chernyshev, Vladivostok

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