Nobel-prize winning Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn died today of heart failure at 89, AFP reports. Two of his key works, One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and The First Circle, revealed the horrors of Soviet gulags and got him expelled from the country in 1974. After 20 years as a Cold War idol abroad, Solzhenitsyn returned home and criticized both the West and post-Soviet Russian values.
Vladimir Putin decorated Solzhenitsyn last year with Russia's greatest honor, the State Prize. "Until the end of my life I can hope that the historical material... collected by me and presented to my readers, enters the consciousness and memory of my fellow countrymen," Solzhenitsyn said in a message played at the ceremony. "Our bitter national experience... will warn us and ward us from destructive break-downs."