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Words glorifying Stalin may be removed from the Moscow metro

The Moscow Heritage Department has called the restoration of the Kurskaya Circle Metro Station, together with words glorifying Stalin, “unacceptable” in a letter addressed to the organization “For Human Rights

The Moscow Heritage Department has called the restoration of the Kurskaya Circle Metro Station “unacceptable” in a letter addressed to the organization “For Human Rights”. The human rights group turned to the Mayor’s Office in response to the reinstatement in August 2009 of a phrase from the Soviet Anthem of 1943 which glorifies Joseph Stalin.

The letter reads: “The Moscow Heritage Department has considered the appeal regarding the reinstatement of a fragment of the 1943 Soviet anthem in the vestibule of the Moscow metro station “Kurskaya Circle Line”. Planning document for the restoration of the metro station was not agreed with the Department. A letter addressed to the Metro has been prepared indicating that it was unacceptable to carry out work on an object of national heritage without agreeing with the Moscow Heritage Department.

“For Human Rights” – and other human rights groups and concerned individuals – reacted with outrage to the appearance in late August of lines from the old Soviet anthem. The words read: “Stalin brought us up – to be true to the people. He inspired us to labour and to heroism!”.  The words are from Sergei Mikhalkov’s version of the national anthem, and were replaced by other, less offensive words, in 1961, five years after the dictator was denounced.

“Memorial” also issued an open letter to the Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov demanding a public investigation into the reinstatement of the text. It called the action “a grave insult to Moscow, its residents and to the entire Russian people… It is spitting on the graves of those people he murdered, among whom were tens of thousands of Muscovites.”

“To this day full lists have not been published of the Muscovite victims of the communist regime, yet the capital’s metro representatives are already hurrying to immortalize the name of their executioner.

The very words “Stalin raised us to be true to the people” should not be tolerated in a democratic country. Such phases appear only under a dictatorship.”

Lev Ponomarev, the Head of “For Human Rights” calls the response from the Heritage Department of the Mayor’s Office a pleasant surprise and says that he hopes that there will be real action and that the words will be removed.

Ernest Sementovsky, General Director of Mosmetroproekt which drew up the plans, claimed that the reconstruction was no in way connected with an attempt to glorify Stalin. He also asserted that the plans had been sent to the Moscow Heritage Department but that they had received no reply.  He added that the Moscow authorities do not have the right to take a decision about redoing the station since it is a monument of federal significance. “I don’t think that a decision to take the words down can in principle be taken by anybody.”

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