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Putin (left) visiting Solzhenitsyn today at his home near Moscow (ITAR-TASS)
June 12, 2007 -- In a Kremlin ceremony to mark Russia Day, President Vladimir Putin granted the writer and anti-Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn a State Award for humanitarian achievement.
Putin said "millions of people around the world associate" Solzhenitsyn's name and work "with the very fate of Russia itself."
In a pre-recorded video message played at the ceremony, Solzhenitsyn said Russia's "bitter experience" in the 20th century "will warn and divert us from ruinous failures" in the future.
The 88-year-old novelist is best known for writing "The Gulag Archipelago," an effort to document the history of Soviet-era prison camps that led to his exile from the Soviet Union in 1974.
Solzhenitsyn will be the second person to receive the prize, which was first awarded last year to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksy II.