7 February 1974* [Andropov-Brezhnev] Solzhenitsyn

Letter from ANDROPOV to BREZHNEV about SOLZHENITSYN, suggesting he be deported from the USSR to West Germany [R 7 February 1974 (no number)] total 3 pp. For background, see Note [1] below.


[page one of three]

Letter from Yu. ANDROPOV to L. BREZHNEV

7 February 1974
Top Secret

Dear Leonid Ilych,

Here is the note prepared by V. Chebrikov and F. Bobkov, who are dealing directly with the problem of Solzhenitsyn. From the note it follows that at present this is more than a criminal matter and has become a not inconsiderable problem that is definitely political in character. As can be seen from the note the overwhelming majority of Soviet people have rightly assessed the criticism directed at Solzhenitsyn. However, it is from this quarter that the question is asked ever more insistently: “Why don’t the authorities take measures against Solzhenitsyn who, after criticism of his views, has not only failed to lay down his arms, but is speaking out against the Soviet regime in an even more rabid fashion?”

I am particularly concerned that this question is more and more frequently to be heard in military circles and among a certain part of those employed in the Party apparatus.

On the other hand, despite the measures we have taken to expose its anti-Soviet character Solzhenitsyn’s book enjoys a certain sympathy, to one extent or another, among certain representatives of the creative intelligentsia. For instance, while certain noted Soviet writers condemn the anti-Soviet character of the “Gulag Archipelago” [2] they say that the facts described in this book indeed took place; this work should be a warning to the Soviet leadership, they say, which is supposedly engaged in a process of “re-Stalinisation”. For certain of them the “value” of Solzhenitsyn’s book is that it “inevitably draws the attention of the Central Committee to the intelligentsia, above all its creative part”.

We have recorded certain remarks by individual [manual] workers and among students that Solzhenitsyn has called on the Soviet leadership to reduce prices on consumer goods and to end


[page two]                                                                                                         2.

aid to Cuba and developing countries in order to raise the living standards of the Soviet people. These ideas are not contained in “Gulag Archipelago” but, as you remember, were expressed in Solzhenitsyn’s infamous “Letter to the Soviet Leaders” [3]. Having decided not to publish this document in the near future, Solzhenitsyn is, according to our information, nevertheless making its contents known through his circle.

On the basis of the above, Leonid Ilyich, I think it is impossible to put off a decision about Solzhenitsyn any longer, no matter how much we do not want to harm [our] international affairs. Further delay could lead to extremely undesirable consequences within the country.

As I already reported to you over the phone, Brandt has made a statement that Solzhenitsyn can live and work freely in the FRG. Today, 7 February [1974], Comrade Kevorkov is flying to meet Bahr in order to discuss the practical aspects of deporting Solzhenitsyn from the Soviet Union to the FRG. If Brandt does not waver at the last minute, and Kevorkov’s negotiations are successful, then by 9-10 February we shall already have a joint decision and I shall let you know without delay. If agreement is reached then, I believe, no later than 9 February the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet should issue a decree depriving Solzhenitsyn of his Soviet citizenship and deporting him from the country (a draft of this decree is attached). The deportation itself could then be carried out on 10-11 February.

It is important to do this all quickly because, as our sources indicate, Solzhenitsyn is beginning to suspect what we are planning and could issue a public written statement that would place us and Brandt in an awkward position.

If for any reason the operation to deport Solzhenitsyn from the country does not come off, I think we shall have to bring criminal charges against him


[page three]                                                                                                    [3]

and detain him before 15 February this year. The Procurator’s Office is prepared to do this.

Dear Leonid Ilych: before sending this letter we at the Committee once again most thoroughly weighed up all the possible costs that could arise (to a lesser degree) from deportation and (to a greater degree) from the arrest of Solzhenitsyn. There will indeed be such costs. Unfortunately, however, we have no alternative since letting Solzhenitsyn’s behaviour go unpunished is already causing us much greater costs within the country than those which will arise in international terms if Solzhenitsyn is deported or arrested.

Respectfully yours




[1] For an uncensored, contemporary account of the events leading up to Solzhenitsyn‘s expulsion on 13 February from the USSR, see A Chronicle of Current Events (Moscow) CCE 32.1, July 1974.

[2] The Gulag Archipelago was published abroad (in Russian) in late December 1973; the first French and English translations of Volume 1 followed in spring 1974.

[3] Solzhenitsyn‘s “Letter to the Soviet Leaders” was published in Paris early in March 1974: he sent it to the Soviet leadership in September 1973, but received no reply.

See also the preceding extended Politburo discussion about Solzhenitsyn on 7 January 1974.


1. Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
2. Text added by hand is indicated in italic script;
3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been inserted
in a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.

Translation, John Crowfoot


One thought on “7 February 1974* [Andropov-Brezhnev] Solzhenitsyn

Comments are closed.