Moscow City Hall has approved hanging posters of Stalin throughout the city in the run up to Victory Day, but tempers are running high.
For years, Moscow authorities have received hundreds of requests from communists, veterans’ organizations and pensioners’ groups to use the image of Joseph Stalin in the celebrations for Victory Day.
This year they got their wish – the billboards will be put up around the city. There are reports that one of the posters is already up in the southwest of Moscow, a caller told the Echo of Moscow radio station.
At the same time, the city of Volgograd in southern Russia is celebrating the 67th anniversary of the victory in the battle of Stalingrad by producing a limited collection of boxes of carbonated water bearing the image of Joseph Stalin. There is considerable controversy on whether this image should be used.
This is not the first time that Stalin has reigned from the grave. In the end of 2009, in the city of Voronezh in southwestern Russia, there were 7 large billboards placed around the city commemorating the 113th anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s birth. It was not even the first incident in the city. In the summer of 2009, 10 billboards were paid for by the Communist party of Voronezh to commemorate the day when Russia entered World War II. They were eventually taken down three days later after a large controversy.
The move of Moscow City Hall has provoked a whole range of different reactions.
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the billboards do not automatically imply a veneration of Joseph Stalin.
Predictably, the Communists have declared the City Hall decision as a very brave one.
Human rights activists say they will protest this decision, and that everyone who supports it is in favor of a return to those dark days of Stalinist oppression.
Surprisingly enough, Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, said that these billboards around the city could result in widespread dismay. Instead of putting up these billboards, Gorbachev added, more should be written in the history books on Stalin’s role in World War II.
Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma, was also against the decision, saying that the victory was not Stalin’s merit, but that of Soviet people.
Vyacheslav Tetekin, a secretary for the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, told RT why Stalin’s images are being put up around the city on Victory Day.
“Stalin is being perceived by the nation as the military and political leader who took the nation to the victory. The country needed industrialization. Without it, there would be no victory.”
General Zhukov, who is often viewed as a true hero, Tetekin said, was only “in charge of military operations while Stalin was running the whole economy, the back of the fighting force.”
“If it has not been for the war, Stalin would be a political leader of a different kind. His actions were driven by particular historic circumstances,” Tetekin added.