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article imageRussia unveils two Stalin monuments in single day

By AFP     Sep 10, 2015 in World

The Russian Communist Party announced Thursday it had unveiled two monuments to Stalin in a single day, reflecting what it called his growing popularity with the public.

Activists on Wednesday dedicated a full-length statue of the former Soviet dictator in the Mari El region and a bust of him in Penza, a city east of Moscow, the party said.

"Despite the ceaseless anti-Soviet propaganda... the name of Stalin is only growing more popular among Russians," it said in a statement.

"As a whole across Russia the number of Stalin monuments is already close to a hundred."

Once ubiquitous, Stalin monuments were pulled down in the Soviet Union after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced his predecessor's excesses in 1956. Historians paint him as a tyrant who was responsible for the death of millions and trampled on human rights.

But since President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, there has been a growing chorus of Russians who take a positive view of Stalin's role in history.

The Communist Party has encouraged a revival of the cult of Stalin, hailing his role in leading the country towards victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and modernising the country, while downplaying the deaths in prison camps and from forced collectivisation.

Activists unveiled a three-meter (10-feet) -high statue on Wednesday in the grounds of a meat plant in Mari El region around 600 kilometres (400 miles) east of Moscow.

"Stalin was and remains an outstanding statesman, one of the central figures of world history," a senior Communist party official who is also an MP, Dmitry Novikov, said in a speech.

The Communist Party has encouraged a revival of the cult of Stalin  hailing his role in leading the ...
The Communist Party has encouraged a revival of the cult of Stalin, hailing his role in leading the country towards victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and modernising the country, while downplaying the deaths in prison camps
Danil Semyonov, AFP/File

Party loyalists also unveiled a gold-painted bust of Stalin on a pedestal in the centre of Penza some 600 kilometres (400 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Several hundred attended the opening, some carrying red flags bearing Lenin's face and the hammer and sickle emblem, the local party said.

"All that was heroic and beautiful in the Soviet Union is linked to the name of Stalin," the head of a World War II veterans' organisation said in a speech ending: "Glory to great Stalin!"

The bust went up in front of the Communist party's headquarters after previously standing in a courtyard.

This year, Russia inaugurated a controversial monument in Crimea depicting Stalin, US president Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to commemorate their 1945 summit in Yalta, which divided up zones of interest in the post-war world.

Thirty-nine percent of Russians view Stalin with respect and admiration, while 20 percent feel fear or hatred towards him, a survey by independent polling agency the Levada Centre found in March.

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