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165. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant (Friedersdorf) to President Ford1

SUBJECT

  • Solzhenitsyn

I am concerned about the Solzhenitsyn issue and its impact on the right wing on the Hill.

One possible solution might be to host a meeting, a luncheon or some other type of event as soon as possible for Solzhenitsyn, Nureyev, and Rostropovich.2

Both Nureyev and Rostropovich are now appearing in the Kennedy Center before sell out crowds and both are highly publicized exiles but not nearly as controversial, of course, as Solzhenitsyn.

They are all three artists of great talent and the meeting could be held as an artistic and intellectual event rather than any political gathering.

I just don’t think this issue is going to go away with the conservatives and, of course, it has adverse impact with the liberals too.

With all due deference to Dr. Kissinger, I believe that if détente is so fragile that it cannot stand a meeting with Solzhenitsyn, it will fall on some other account.3

  1. Source: Ford Library, President’s Handwriting File, 1974–1977, Box 7, Countries—USSR. No classification marking. Ford initialed the memorandum; a stamped note also indicates that he saw it.
  2. Rudolf Nureyev, a Russian dancer, defected to the West in 1961; Mstislav Rostropovich, a Russian cellist and conductor, emigrated to the United States in 1974.
  3. On July 21, Solzhenitsyn rejected the open invitation to meet with Ford at the White House. He also criticized the President for planning to attend the upcoming European Security Conference in Helsinki, which he called “the betrayal of Eastern Europe.” (Bernard Gwertzman, “Solzhenitsyn Says Ford Joins in Eastern Europe’s ‘Betrayal’,” The New York Times, July 22, 1975, pp. 1, 9)