On May 27, 1994, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia after 20 years of exile. Solzhenitsyn (pronounced sol-zhen-EET-zihn) was a dissident, meaning he questioned and often disagreed with the authority of the Soviet Union, which was then the government of Russia.
 
Solzhenitsyn had been a dissident almost his entire life. In 1945, he was sentenced to eight years in a gulag, or Soviet work camp, for criticizing Soviet leader Josef Stalin. His first and best-known novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, was based on Solzhenitsyn’s time in the gulag. 
 
Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. His mammoth, three-volume history of the prison system, The Gulag Archipelago, was banned in the Soviet Union, and Solzhenitsyn was exiled when the book was published abroad in 1974. The author spent most of his exile in the U.S. state of Vermont.
 
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia, where he embarked on a nationwide tour. True to form, he criticized the new Russian government, accusing it of political and economic oppression. Despite his dissent, he and Russian leader Vladimir Putin formed a friendship before Solzhenitsyn’s death in 2008.
abroad
Adverb

in a foreign country.

authority
Noun

person or organization responsible for making decisions.

ban
Verb

to prohibit or not allow.

criticize
Verb

to find fault with something.

dissident
Noun

someone who disagrees with public opinion or authority.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

embark
Verb

to leave or set off on a journey.

exile
Noun

forced ejection from a country, or a person who feels forced to leave.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

gulag
Noun

forced-labor camp of the Soviet Union.

mammoth
Adjective

very large.

oppress
Verb

to unjustly discriminate against, torment, or persecute.

political
Adjective

having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

publish
Verb

to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

Soviet Union
Noun

(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

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