Grave of Solzhenitsyn's mother vandalized

Unidentified vandals damaged the grave of Nobel Prize winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn's mother, police officials said Thursday.

The vandals removed a marble cross from Taisiya Solzhenitsyn's grave on Tuesday in the small town of Georgiyevsk, about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south of Moscow, said a duty officer with the town police. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Alexander Shiryayev, chief of Georgiyevsk police, told NTV television a team of investigators were considering hooliganism as the motive.

Solzhenitsyn's mother was buried in Georgiyevsk in January 1944, reports AP.

Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 and was expelled from the Soviet Union four years later. He lived in the northeast U.S. state of Vermont until his 1994 return to Russia, three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has kept a low profile in recent years, giving few interviews and issuing few public statements, reports AP.

While Solzhenitsyn's influence has waned since the Soviet collapse, interest in his books picked up toward the end of the 1990s and his three-volume novel "The Gulag Archipelago" (1973-78) was recently turned into a popular television series.

Local authorities have decided to restore the desecrated grave with money from the city budget, the NTV report said.

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