Nobel prize winning Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was forced into exile for books strongly critical of the Soviet government, has died at 89.
His son said Sunday Solzhenitsyn died of heart failure while Russian news reports said he suffered a stroke. Solzhenitsyn was an iconic world symbol of censorship and oppression in the Soviet Union.
He was born in 1918 and studied mathematics at a Russian university. In 1945, he was sentenced to eight years in prison camps and later exiled to Kazakhstan for sending a friend a letter critical of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. He also barely survived a bout with cancer. Returning to Russia, he took advantage of the loosening of official censorship by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to describe his labor camp experience in the 1962 novel, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." But his subsequent writings critical of the Kremlin were suppressed and Solzhenitsyn was constantly hounded by the KGB.
Solzhenitsyn won the 1970 Nobel prize for literature. But the Kremlin stripped him of his citizenship and sent him to exile in 1974 after his novel, "The Gulag Archipelago," was printed in the West. Solzhenitsyn eventually settled in the United States, returning to Russia in 1994.