Russia: Victory Day must not divide us
Human rights defenders have issued a statement issued as portraits of Stalin are poised to appear on Moscow streets, courtesy of the Moscow authorities and in spite of strong protest, human rights defenders
Their statement entitled “Victory Day must not divide us” points out that the Moscow authorities are stubbornly insisting on their plan to erect posters of Stalin around the city and that these are likely already this week. “The Mayor’s demagogic references to some kind of “historical objectivity” are laughable.
The festive decoration of the city is not a museum exhibition in which all the figures need to be presented, including Stalin, his deputy in the State Defence Committee Beria, whom he made a Marshal, Hitler who was both a friend and enemy of Stalin and many others.
The posting of Stalin’s portraits is incompatible with respect for the People-Victor. It is precisely Stalin who bears responsibility for crimes against his own people and for the terrible price of Victory. It was Stalin’s crimes which to this day cloud Russia’s relations with neighbouring countries, near and far. It was not the people who signed a pact with Hitler in 1939, nor was the decision to execute Poles at Katyń taken by the people.
The posting of portraits of the dictator in a festive context cannot be viewed otherwise than as his glorification, as an excusing of terror.
Thousands of Muscovites on Victory Day will be forced to look at the portraits of the murder of their fathers and grandfathers. It is not difficult to understand what feelings they will have for those who so “decorate” the city with the portraits of a butcher. It goes without saying that many will not accept this glorification of a murderer.
The posting of portraits of Stalin provokes a spontaneous reaction from Muscovites. All responsibility for possible incidents and confrontations will be entirely on the conscience of the Moscow authorities. We call once again on the Mayor of Moscow to not turn this national holiday into civic confrontation.
Memorial (the International Memorial Society, and Moscow Memorial)
The Moscow Helsinki Group
The Andrei Sakharov Museum and Civic Centre
The Fund for the Defence of Openness
“For Human Rights”
The Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights