Luzhkov Promises Moscow Will See More of Stalin

An elderly woman holding a portrait of Stalin. Source: RFE/RLIn an announcement sure to further dismay human rights activists and historians in Russia and abroad, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has announced that portraits of Josef Stalin would be featured from now on as part of future city celebrations, Intefax reports.

The mayor made the announcement yesterday at a session of city government officials, following plans released last month for informational posters featuring Stalin’s role in winning World War II to be placed throughout the city in the run-up to May 9 Victory Day celebrations.

“I am not an admirer of Stalin,” said the mayor. “I am an admirer of objective history.”

Luzhkov then accused the Russian media of misrepresenting the city’s plans for the Victory Day posters and giving a false impression that big portraits of the dictator would be literally hung around the city.

“We’re going to do it in appropriate proportions,” he said.

Human rights organizations have already expressed their outrage at the plans, which the city’s design and advertising committee said was introduced at the request of veteran and pensioner organizations.

“Stalin was a criminal, and his regime, which killed millions of people, is utterly disgraceful to publicize,” said former Soviet dissident and prominent rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva in response to last month’s announcement. “It’s the same as glorifying Hitler in Germany.” She added that rights groups intend to hold protests if the plans are implemented.

The Memorial human rights organization also said on Wednesday that they would be launching their own campaign in response, hanging posters that detail crimes committed by the Stalinist regime.

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.

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