Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a famous Soviet dissident and author who received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. He wrote the Gulag Archipelago which exposed Soviet atrocities under communism. He was described as “a pioneer in the renaissance of religion in atheist nations.” In his famous speech, Solzhenitsyn talked about the persecution of the Orthodox church in Russia where tens of thousands of churches were torn down or desecrated under the Stalin and the Khrushchev periods, "leaving behind a disfigured wasteland that bore no resemblance to Russia such as it had stood for centuries." Solzhenitsyn was such an important figure because he warned of the heavy hand of government that trampled religious freedom and reminded us that Russia's moral and spiritual poverty throughout communist domination happened because "[they] had forgotten God."