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Siberian Capital Celebrates V-Day Amid Portraits of Stalin

Attitude towards the personality of the former Commander-In-Chief continues to divide Russian society 


This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Novosibirsk regional office of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) will have distributed 25 banners bearing a portrait of Joseph Stalin by May 9th. There is a collage of the Victory Parade of 1945 on billboards as background. The inscription reads: “Happy Victory Day!” The organizers say this re-establishes justice for the participants in the Great Patriotic War. However, the attitude towards Joseph Stalin remains ambiguous. 

According to a survey conducted in December 2015 by the polling firm ‘Levada-Center’, today a third of Russians (34%) think that ‘whatever mistakes and sins are attributed to Stalin, the most important thing is that led by him our people won the Great Patriotic War” (28% in 2007). 20% respondents share the opinion that “Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity”.  In 2007 14%  Russians surveyed thought the same. 

At the same time, 21% of respondents consider that Joseph Stalin was a "cruel and ruthless tyrant”, to blame for the killing of millions of innocent people” (29% in 2007). 13% people compared to 17% in 2007, said that ‘Stalin’s policies resulted in the country not being prepared  for war in 1941 and because of this, it suffered serious losses”. 

There are also disputes about the commemoration of the legacy and achievements of the Soviet leader. For instance, in 2015 his portrait was posted on the wall of the plant ‘Tyazhstankohydropress’ in Novosibirsk. That same year, activists from the CPRF installed a sculpture of Stalin in Lipetsk that was immediately vandalized. This February, Stalin’s sculpture was installed in the Pskov Region. 

A few years ago, the independent newspaper, ‘Yakutsk Vecherny’, conducted a popular referendum about plans to install a Stalin monument in the main square of the capital of the Yakutia Republic in Siberia, the site of a number  of Stalin’s camps. The idea was rejected by a small margin of votes. 

Last year, ahead of the May holidays, the human rights group ‘Memorial’ that also addressed the issue of the rehabilitation of the Stalinist purge victims, called  for people not to use  the image of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during the 70th Victory anniversary holidays. saying his glorification should be banned.

The Russian Orthodox Church also expressed a negative attitude   in its official statement dedicated to the 65th anniversary of Victory Day in 2010:

“There was an infernal system in Stalin’s time and nothing can justify it: neither the industrialization, nor the atomic bomb, nor the saving of state frontiers, nor even victory in the Great Patriotic War, since all that was achieved was not by Stalin but by our multinational people. The regime created by Stalin was based on lies, terror, violence, the suppression of human beings. The regime gobbled itself up when the executioners became the victims, and had only temporary success.” 

One of the greatest Russian philosophers of the 20th – early 21st century - who, as a student tried to organize an assassination attempt on Stalin, and suffered in the purges before becoming a pilot during the Great Patriotic War, Alexander Zinoviev wrote:

“A dead man cannot be my enemy”.

According to him, his hatred towards Stalin ended on March 5th 1953, the day of his death. 

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