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10.04.2010

Moscow authorities insist on pictures of Stalin for Victory Day

   

Dozens of posters depicting Stalin will be hung around Moscow despite protests. The Organizing Committee for the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War say that they have no influence over presentation in Moscow and other Russian cities for the anniversary since the money comes from local budgets.

The posters, on stands of a metre by a metre and a half will be displayed in places where veterans normally gather on that day. It is anticipated that by 9 May there will be 10 such stands with Stalin depicted together with soldiers, kolkhoz workers and those on the home front.

Human rights defenders who have called the stands an insult to the memory of the millions who died in Stalin’s repressions believe that the decision of the Moscow authorities will provoke protest actions. Alexander Cherkasov, member of the Memorial board told Radio Svoboda:

“Perhaps the best Muscovites fell in the autumn of 1941 west of Moscow precisely because they tried to substitute home guard divisions joined by the best people for the army destroyed on the borders, and then on the way to Moscow.  For those whose relatives died, for a huge number of Muscovites, the portraits of Stalin as “Marshall of Victory” are insulting.”

Memorial is planning, as advertisements, to place alternative banners telling people about Stalin’s crimes during the War.

As Alexander Cherkasov explains, “Stalin’s role in the events of the Second World War is like this: he was not only the “Marshall of Victory”, but the man who made a pact with Hitler and systematically cooperated with him during 22 pre-War months. He laid the foundation for the Soviet Union’s defeat during the first years of the War and during the War continued to commit crimes. Just remember the punitive deportation of whole ethnic groups!  That puts him beyond the boundaries of the general circle of historical figures.”

Among those opposing the banners depicting Stalin have been the Human Rights Ombudsperson Vladimir Lukin, the Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeev, as well as the leadership of the United Russia party.

Alexander Cherkasov believes the decision by the Moscow authorities could lead to an international scandal.

“I don’t know how much this was an independent decision by Luzkhov. However now we need to understand that if Stalin is on the banners, the rest of the programme commemorating Victory Day will change. The appearance of Stalin will automatically prompt somebody from among the guests to speak not only about 1945, but about 1939, about the pact with Hitler. It’s unlikely that European representatives will be able to ignore this context once again emerging. It’s possible that there will be those who don’t want to appear in Moscow in Stalin’s company. I don’t know if Luzhkov understands that he is creating problems for his leadership.

Experts also believe that the decision could provoke conflict between federal and Moscow authorities.

From a text by Yelena Polyakovskaya at http://www.svobodanews.ru/content/article/2006672.html

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