Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 101

. ORT also axed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s biweekly "Meetings with Solzhenitsyn" program. The company’s first deputy director Kirill Ignatiev cited the show’s low ratings and Solzhenitsyn’s "image devaluation in the viewers’ perception" due to the unprofessional way in which the show’s producers used the famous writer. But Solzhenitsyn’s wife Natalya said that her husband’s frequent TV appearances were enormously popular, and noted that the show’s cancellation came just after an article attacking Solzhenitsyn appeared in Izvestiya September 20. She said that Solzhenitsyn sees his show’s cancellation as an attempt by the government to get rid of any criticism during the electoral campaign. Natalya Solzhenitsyna pointed out that this is not the first time that her husband had fallen victim to those wishing to restrict freedom of speech.

The 76-year-old writer, who spent more than 20 years exile in rural America , had been regularly appearing in what was essentially a late night, one-man talk show. According to media reports, many ordinary Russian viewers found Solzhenitsyn’s program dry, his moralistic style overbearing and his somber themes unappealing. The fact that he called for Chechnya’s independence, dwelt on the plight of Russians in the newly independent countries, and appeared obsessed with reviving the zemstvos probably didn’t help the program either.

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