Friday, September 11, 2015

Russia unveils two Stalin monuments over rising popularity

The Russian Communist Party announced Thursday it had unveiled two monuments of Stalin in a single day, reflecting his growing popularity with the public.

Activists on Wednesday dedicated a full-length statue of the former Soviet leader in the Mari El region and a bust of him in Penza, a city east of Moscow, the party said.

"Despite the ceaseless anti-Soviet propaganda ... the name of Stalin is only growing more popular among Russians," it said in a statement.

"As a whole across Russia the number of Stalin monuments is already close to a hundred."

Once ubiquitous, Stalin monuments were pulled down in the Soviet Union after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced his predecessor's excesses in 1956.

The Communist Party has encouraged a revival of the cult of Stalin, hailing his role in leading the country toward victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and modernizing the country.

People unveiled a three-meter-high statue on Wednesday in the grounds of a meat plant in Mari El region, east of Moscow.

"Stalin was and remains an outstanding statesman, one of the central figures of world history," a senior Communist party official who is also an MP, Dmitry Novikov, said in a speech.

Party supporters also unveiled a gold-painted bust of Stalin on a pedestal in the center of Penza some 600 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

Several hundred attended the opening, some carrying red flags bearing Lenin's face and the hammer and sickle emblem, the local party said.

"All that was heroic and beautiful in the Soviet Union is linked to the name of Stalin," the head of a World War II veterans' organization said in a speech ending: "Glory to great Stalin!"

Thirty-nine percent of Russians view Stalin with respect and admiration, while 20 percent feel fear or hatred toward him, a survey by independent polling agency the Levada Centre found in March.


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