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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Stickers insulting the late Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn appeared on a Moscow street named after the Nobel Prize-winning author a day before the unveiling of a plaque honoring his memory.

Large stickers posted on walls on December 10 carry a picture of Solzhenitsyn altered to show him wearing a Nazi military hat and the words: "Literary Vlasovtsy, get out of Moscow!"

"Vlasovtsy" refers to members of the so-called Russian Liberation Army, which fought under Nazi Germany's command during World War II. The unit was led by Andrei Vlasov, a Red Army general who switched sides.

The stickers also bore the logo of a group called the Revolutionary Communist Union of the Bolshevik Youth (RKSMB).

On its website, the group said the stickers were posted to protest the unveiling of the plaque on the apartment building where Solzhenitsyn lived in the 1970s.

The large metal plaque featuring Solzhenitsyn's face and head sculpted in relief was unveiled at a ceremony on December 11, the late writer's birthday.

His widow, Natalya Solzhenitsyna, said that those who put up the stickers were "intellectually and emotionally stunted."

"There is scum in every society at every time -- sometimes more, sometimes less," she said.

Solzhenitsyn, whose most famous works include One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, spent many years in the Soviet gulag prison system.

He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and lived in the United States for decades before returning to Russia in 1994.

The 1970 Nobel literature laureate died in Moscow in 2008 at the age of 89.

In October 2016, the RKSMB hanged Solzhenitsyn's effigy in front of the gulag museum in Moscow.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service and Ekho Moskvy
Russian human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alekseyeva

Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed a state award on Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a veteran human rights activist and vocal critic of his actions over 18 years in power.

Putin's decree, published on December 11, granted Alekseyeva a "state award for outstanding achievements in the protection of human rights in 2017."

A Soviet-era dissident who was among the founders of the human rights movement in the 1960s, Alekseyeva is the chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

She has spoken out about what she has described as a dramatic backsliding on human rights and democracy since Putin came to power in 2000.

The award, announced five days after Putin said he will seek a new six-year term in a March 18 election, is likely to deepen suspicions that he is seeking to win the respected activist's support or blunt her criticism.

It comes after Putin visited Alekseyeva at her Moscow apartment on her 90th birthday in July. The Kremlin website and state media outlets covered the visit in detail, and many government critics saw it as an effort to burnish Putin's image.

Alekseyeva said on December 11 that she was "very grateful" and considered the award an acknowledgement of her "50 years of work" as a human rights activist, the Interfax news agency reported.

She said she would hand the award over to her organization "as always."

"They are awarding not Babushka Lyuda but the Moscow Helsinki Group," she said, using a short version of her name and referring to her advanced age.

Alekseyeva also suggested that Svetlana Gannushkina, an advocate for migrants -- a group she said is "very much without rights in our country" -- may have deserved the award more.

"She works...around the clock and selflessly, as a human rights advocate should -- and as I worked as long as I was in the physical condition to do so," Alekseyeva said.

With reporting by Interfax and RIA Novosti

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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