Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has joined hundreds of Russians in paying final respects to the late Nobel Prize-winning novelist and political dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Mourners braved heavy rain to file past Solzhenitsyn's open casket Tuesday at the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he lay in state with a military honor guard.

Mr. Putin spoke briefly to Solzhenitsyn's widow, Natalia, and his sons, who kept vigil near the casket. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev also paid his respects

Many mourners, most of them older adults, brought offerings of red or white flowers.

Solzhenitsyn died of heart failure Sunday in Moscow at the age of 89.  He fist gained international literary renown in 1962 with his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.  He based the book on his experiences in Soviet prison camps in the 1940s and 50s.

He won the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature, but was expelled in 1974 after his work The Gulag Archipelago, was printed in the West.

Solzhenitsyn eventually settled in the United States and wrote about what he thought was the moral decline and obsessive materialism of the West.

He returned to Russia in 1994 after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev plans to attend the author's funeral Wednesday at Moscow's Donskoy Monastery.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.