February 16, 1974 – Quietly Losing A Dissident – Loudly Gaining A Hostage

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr SolzhenitsynSoviet dissident The Kremlin quietly sent packing.

February 16, 1974 – CBS Radio: The World This Week – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

February 16, 1974 – a week focusing on a dissident and a hostage.

The dissident in question was writer and outspoken Soviet critic Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose milestone novel The Gulag Archipelago not only won him the Nobel Prize in literature, it also prompted the Krelmin to quietly exile him from the country. Solzhenitsyn’s clashes with the Kremlin weren’t new – they had been going on since roughly 1962, the year he published One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, the only work Solzhenitsyn was allowed to publish in Russia. Solzhenitsyn was critical of the Soviet system and was instrumental in bringing to international light the Gulag Forced Labor Camp system. Prior to his 1973 work, he had been the object of considerable harassment, initially sentenced to a Gulag in 1945 for writing private letters to a friend, critical of the Russian conduct of the War. In 1956 he was exonerated and released from prison and secretly began writing that would gain him acclaim, but also disdain from the Soviet regime, which picked up after Nikita Khruschev was removed from office and replaced by a more hardline government. With the awarding of the Nobel Prize, Solzhenitsyn initially refused to go, afraid he would be prevented from returning. However, on February 12, Solzhenitsyn was arrested and deported to West Germany. And from there, parts West.

The hostage came in the form of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, who had been kidnapped by a group calling themselves The Symbionese Liberation Army. She had gone missing for some two weeks before surfacing by way of a tape-recorded message to her parents along with a demand from an SLA leader named Gen. Cinque to fund a food giveaway program for California’s poor. The program would cost, it was believed, to be around $400 million – and it was a demand which caused concern to the Hearst family as well as the FBI agents working on the case.

But that, like Solzhenitsyn, were stories in the process of unfolding – and as of this February 16, 1974 there was no way to consider the outcome or what direction the events would take – that was the future that hadn’t happened yet. But it was part of the events reported by CBS Radio’ The World This Week.

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