7 Aug 2008

Solzhenitsyn buried in Moscow

10:40 am on 7 August 2008

The body of Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn has been laid to rest at a funeral service held at Moscow's Donskoi monastery - the final resting place of a number of poets, philosophers and historians.

President Dmitry Medvedev joined the writer's family, friends and hundreds of mourners at the monastery's cathedral, near the city centre.

Solzhenitsyn's writing exposed Stalin's prison system and earned him 20 years in exile from the former Soviet Union.

He died on Sunday of heart failure at his home near Moscow, aged 89.

After the service, priests followed the coffin outside the cathedral, chanting and singing, before a gun salute was fired and a military band played as the coffin was lowered into the grave.

Thousands of mourners earlier paid tribute to the writer as his body lay in state inside the Russian Academy of Sciences. A night-long vigil was held on Tuesday.

Among those who paid their respects was former Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the Soviet era, he was an officer in the KGB secret police.

In later televised remarks, Mr Putin said: "Through his works and his entire life he inoculated our society against tyranny in all its forms."

The author of The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia from exile in 1994.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.