Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 11:38 UK

Solzhenitsyn is buried in Moscow

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's body during his funeral service
The funeral was held at Donskoi monastery's cathedral

The body of Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn has been laid to rest at a funeral service held at Moscow's Donskoi monastery.

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.

Before entering the church to attend the service on Wednesday morning, Yuri Luzhkov, mayor of the Russian capital, said: "He was one of our strongest personalities, a unique person."

Inside, Mr Solzhenitsyn's widow, Natalya, her sons and the rest of the Solzhenitsyn family sat in the front row of the church where more than 100 people had crowded

The Nobel prize-winning author lay in an open coffin with a wooden cross on his chest, surrounded by hundreds of candles.


The funeral service took place at Moscow's Donskoi monastery cathedral

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.

Mrs Solzhenitsyn and her sons then scattered handfuls of earth over the coffin, before it was covered over, leaving one large black and white photograph as a final memory at the graveside.

Solzhenitsyn had sought special permission to be buried at Donskoi monastery - the final resting place of a number of poets, philosophers and historians, many leading anti-Soviet figures - from the Russian Orthodox Church leadership, reports say.

Chronicler of horrors

Thousands of mourners had paid tribute to the writer as his body lay in state inside the Russian Academy of Sciences.

A night-long vigil was then 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, Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia from exile in 1994.

Solzhenitsyn's last journey
06 Aug 08 |  Europe
Solzhenitsyn in his own words
03 Aug 08 |  Europe

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