The arrest of Alexander Solzhenitsyn brought widespread worldwide protests yesterday. Graham Greene said that in response to the move all novelists, poets, and scientists should refuse to let their works be published in the Soviet Union. “The time has come to make Moscow a literary ghetto,” he said in a telephone interview from his home on the French Riviera.
The arrest, said the British novelist, “must be on the grounds of the copyright agreement. I’m afraid that was the object of Russia‘s signing the (copyright) convention.”
In Cologne Heinrich Boell, president of the international PEN organisation, said:
“Every accused has the right to know the reason for which he is brought up for interrogation, and to seek the aid of a lawyer. The behaviour of the Soviet Writer’s Union is increasingly less trustworthy as it takes part in the prosecution of Solzhenitsyn.”
The Royal Swedish Academy, which awarded Solzhenitsyn the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, expressed deep concern at his detention.
Dr Karl-Ragnar Gierov, its secretary-general, said in Stockholm : “I find this news deeply tragic.” He hoped Solzhenitsyn was simply being questioned and would not be held. The American branch of PEN calling for the writer’s immediate release, said he was being “persecuted relentlessly by his Government” for publishing his work abroad.
“This action is in gross violation of international covenants, Soviet law, and the consensus of world opinion,” it said in a statement.
In Oslo, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Trygve Bratteli said: “The concern felt by the Norwegian people regarding the treatment of Solzhenitsyn has been intensified by news of his arrest. Mr Bratteli is to visit the Soviet Union next month for talks with Government leaders.
In Washington Senator Henry Jackson, Democrat, said that the arrest raised doubts that the Soviet Union really wanted détente with the West. He urged “the civilised world” to “speak out and redouble its efforts to support him in his courageous defence of human and artistic freedom.”
Western delegates at the European security talks in Geneva said the arrest had set a fresh problem for the conference, at present in its intermediate stage. The subject could be raised at a plenary session tomorrow of its Human Contacts committee.
Western delegates have so far not raised the sensitive issue of Soviet dissidents, fearing it could spark off a damaging confrontation between East and West.