MOSCOW, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Current and former Russian leaders say Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died Sunday, was a courageous freedom fighter who changed Russia by exposing its dark past.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former member of the Russian spy service that persecuted Solzhenitsyn after the writer published an expose of the Soviet Union's "gulag" prison system, hailed the author as "courageous," The Times of London reported Monday.
"His activities as a writer and public figure, his entire long, thorny life journey will remain for us a model of true devotion, selfless service to the people, motherland, the ideals of freedom, justice and humanism," Putin said.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who reinstated Solzhenitsyn's citizenship after his 1974 exile, said he played a key role in bringing down the Stalinist Soviet regime. His books, Gorbachev said, "changed the minds of millions of people, making them rethink their past and present," the Times reported.
Solzhenitsyn's body will lie in state at the Russian Academy of Sciences Tuesday before a Wednesday funeral, officials said.