Moscow to Display Informational Posters Gloryfing Stalin

Josef Stalin. Source: Vision.orgPlans by the Moscow city authorities to display posters glorifying Stalin’s role in winning World War II are eliciting strong opposition from human rights advocates, reported on Thursday.

The posters, which will go on display throughout the capital in the month leading up to Russia’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations, will take the form of informational stalls that picture Josef Stalin and include text detailing his role in orchestrating victory in the war.

Moscow’s department for publicity and design came up with the plan after pensioners and veterans’ organizations repeatedly requested that officials display pictures of Stalin as part of the wider set of decorations set up for anniversary celebrations.

It has been decades since Stalin’s image has been used publicly for the event.

Lev Ponomarev, a prominent activist and head of the organization For Human Rights, said that the decision to display the dictator offends the millions of people who died during the years of the Stalinist repressions.

“A public billboard with a glorification of Stalin is unacceptable. There will most definitely be protest demonstrations. And we will not only be participating in them, but instigating them,” Ponomarev said. “This is a step by city authorities that will evoke opposition throughout society. [Moscow Mayor Yury] Luzhkov is issuing a challenge to Muscovites, and this is a serious political step. Clearly, he wants to use this to escape discussion of the accusations of his corruption and the deterioration of social life in Moscow,” the activist added.

Former Soviet dissident and acclaimed rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva supported her colleague.Plans for informational stalls on Stalin's role in winning WWII. Source:

“Stalin was a criminal, and his regime, which killed millions of people, is utterly disgraceful to publicize,” she said. “It’s the same as glorifying Hitler in Germany. We will be protesting these decisions without fail.”

Alexeyeva added that the Soviet people have their soldiers, and not Stalin, to thank for victory in World War II.

Estimates of up to 30 million people died in the Soviet Union as a result of the Stalinist repressions and widespread famine in the 1930s and 40s, not counting the tens of millions who died as a result of World War II.

The protests echo similar concerns from war veterans and activists in the city of Volgograd last January, where a beverage company announced that Stalin’s portrait would be gracing soft drink labels in honor of the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Russian society is largely fractured in its reconciliation of Stalin as a war hero and Stalin as a ruthless dictator. In 2007, then-President Vladimir Putin mandated a revised school history textbook that called Stalin “the most successful Soviet leader ever” and lauds his qualities as a “great organizer.” President Dmitri Medvedev condemned the dictator in a speech last October, but Putin spoke out in the leader’s defense several weeks later in a live telecast, arguing that the question of Stalin was a “subtle” one. A 2009 poll indicated that nearly a third of Russians would like to see a Stalin-like leader as their head of state. At the same time, this number is down from recent years – 42 percent favored a Stalin-like leader in 2005.