London, Aug 9 : Late Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's malevolent side has been exposed in a letter criticizing Russian historian Zhores Medvedev.
In the letter he sent to The Times, the year of his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974, Solzhenitsyn panned the 83-year-old historian branding him an apologist for the regime and making public statements that served the Soviet empire better than the "whole Soviet propaganda apparatus".
However, Medvedev dismissed the accusations, insisting that the claims were "absolute rubbish"
He said that the letter was designed to spawn a public row so that the world would know they were no longer friends.
"It is not anger. It is cold calculation - a normal episode in which I was insulted a little. I did write a book about him," Times Online quoted him, as saying
"Everybody knew that we were friends, so it would be unnatural for us to stop talking. So if he wanted to cut [communication], he would have to do something cruel," he added.
In his letter, Solzhenitsyn claimed that Medvedev had made a "mockery of the truth" stating that using the term "Soviet regime" was an unfair slur on the Soviet Union's elected government, during an interview on radio in 1973.
He also claimed that Medvedev had announced that Soviet authorities no longer punished dissidents by declaring them insane and committing them to lunatic asylums,- a ploy used against Medvedev himself. But Medvedev has denied that the words attributed to him.
Solzhenitsyn also alleged Medvedev for failing to support the Nobel Prize nomination of Andrei Sakharov, the scientist behind Soviet Union's first hydrogen bomb but later became an outspoken humanitarian.
However, refuting the allegations, Medvedev said that he had been warned by the institute that it was customary not to discuss prize candidates and so gave a cautious reply when asked about Sakharov at a public event.
"I was in a difficult situation. I said, 'He is a good candidate, but I am not in a position to judge the others'," he said.
"I knew sooner or later it would happen. was cut from his circle like others before. It is sad. He died, unfortunately, without a single friend. He was absolutely isolated. He didn't have anyone who came to discuss politics with him," he added.
The Times had refused to print the letter unless the he could provide evidence that he had quoted Dr Medvedev accurately.
Solzhenitsyn, who was then at the height of his fame, angrily declined then sent the letter to Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper, and a Russian-language newspaper based in Paris. The letter appeared in both publications, but it was never published in English.