Russian Jews charge Solzhenitsyn with altering history

He also blames the "liberal intelligentsia" — often a code word for Jews — for exaggerating the extent of the pogroms.

That does not go over well in a community that suffered the pogroms' fury.

"Solzhenitsyn's book is anti-Semitic and mendacious. It is deliberately distorting the history of Russian Jews," charged Victor Dashevsky, a Jewish historian who heads the Moscow Anti-Fascist Center.

The book covers Russian-Jewish relations from the late 18th century — when the partition of Poland placed large numbers of Jews in the Russian Empire — until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

This is not the first time Solzhenitsyn has made headlines.

He first burst onto the world literary scene in the 1960s as a Soviet dissident whose novels — including "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and "The Gulag Archipelago" — exposed the repression of Soviet communism.

His initial reputation as a beacon of freedom and enlightenment makes the current controversy especially poignant. Yet Solzhenitsyn ceased to be the darling of the West some time ago, when he made known his questionable attitudes toward democracy and Jews.

In December 1999, before Russia's last parliamentary elections, he was quoted on Russian television as being fearful of a Jewish conspiracy against Russia.

But for some, Solzhenitsyn always will be remembered for his dissident activity.

"Solzhenitsyn is not an anti-Semite. He remains a banner of my generation, for Jews and non-Jews," said Mark Kajdan, a Jewish researcher with the Russian Academy of Sciences.