ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN publishes the first volume of his epic on the Bolshevik Revolution and gives a rare account of his life in Vermont In his first major American interview since 1

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For 70 years, we have been destroying everything in our country, the life of the people, its biological, ecological, moral and economic basis. Naturally, people look to the past for some point of support, some constructive idea. Now people are looking here and there and finally coming across Stolypin's reforms and how he dealt with the peasantry.

Q. How do you see Lenin in the whole complex of Russian culture?

A. Lenin had little in common with Russian culture. Of course, he graduated from a Russian gymnasium ((high school)). He must have read Russian classics. But he was penetrated with the spirit of internationalism. He did not belong to any nation himself. He was "inter" national -- between nations. During 1917, he showed himself to be in the extreme left wing of revolutionary democracy. Everything that happened in 1917 was guided by ((proponents of)) revolutionary democracy, but it all fell out of their hands. They were not sufficiently consistent, not sufficiently merciless, while he was merciless and consistent to the end, and in that sense his appearance in Russian history was inevitable.

Q. The English philosopher Bertrand Russell, who was a self-professed atheist, met Lenin and said he thought Lenin was the most evil man he had ever met. Do you think Lenin was evil?

A. I never met Lenin, but I can confirm this. He was uncommonly evil.

Q. What do you mean by evil?

A. The absence of any mercy, the absence of any humanity in his approach to the people, the masses, to anyone who did not follow him precisely. If anyone deviated the least little bit from him, like the Mensheviks, for example, he turned on them, he reviled them, he used every term of imprecation against them. He hated them. Even without using the word "evil" in a broad, metaphysical sense, you can still apply this word to Lenin in its everyday meaning.

Q. Some critics have accused you of anti-Semitism on the basis of your depiction of the terrorist Bogrov in August 1914, and one writer even used the words "a new Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" to describe the book. What is your response to these accusations?

A. I described Bogrov in the most realistic way, with every detail of his life, his family, his ideology and his behavior. I recognized his brother's interpretation of him as the most correct and convincing. In no way did I belittle the heroic impulse that moved him. I think that the application of the term anti-Semitic to August 1914 is an unscrupulous technique. I had earlier thought this was possible only in the Soviet Union. The book was not yet available because I had not released it, but people stated quite loudly that this was a disgusting, imperialist, revolting, loathsome book, etc. It wasn't possible to check what was being said, because people couldn't obtain the book.

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