“The KGB knew about Gulag Archipelago in the mid-60s. He’d been writing it furtively while he was publicly writing Cancer Ward, and they bugged a conversation in which he told a friend he was secretly writing this book that would be a huge bombshell when it was published in the 1970s. The KGB couldn’t then have doubted that there was another, secret book that was not Cancer Ward, which was basically pretty innocuous. This was a good five or six years before they actually located a copy of Gulag Archipelago and before the brouhaha that culminated in his expulsion in the 1970s.
So the Soviets, allegedly, made Solzhenitsyn the menace he became. But here, in these archives, we can see that he clearly did have an agenda already that would rock the Soviet Union on its heels and the KGB knew about it. The KGB report and transcript were sent by Semichastny to the Central Committee back in 1965.
This material also details all the counterfeits that were brought out to damage Solzhenitsyn’s reputation. There is a sizeable black museum of these things. One is a document alleging that he was an informer at Ekibastuz labour camp. Everyone knew he’d been approached and asked to be an informer because he wrote about it in Gulag Archipelago, and here is a forged document in which he denounces fellow prisoners who are planning an escape. The dates are all wrong but it’s a good forgery. This material shows you the wonderful world of spy stuff.”
The Best Books About Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn recommended by Michael Nicholson