While the western left accuses Putin of being an extreme rightist, Russia continues its infamous process to rehabilitate the worst criminals of communism.
One of the biggest genocidals in history
Joseph Stalin was one of the bloodiest communist dictators. He ruled the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953, a term characterized by purges and mass deportations in which millions of people were murdered. These massive crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity make him, with difference, in one of the worst genocidals in history, together with the Chinese communist dictator Mao Tse-Tung and the national-socialist dictator Adolf Hitler.
Many of the victims of Stalin's crimes were Russians. It's hard to imagine that a monster like this one still has monuments in the country it massacred, but that's how surreal Russia is. Stalin's tomb on the Kremlin walls in Moscow is presided over by a large bust which pays homage to the genocide, and is a place of pilgrimage for many Russians nostalgic for communism. It would be unthinkable to do something like this in Germany in honor of Hitler, but in Russia that and more is possible, as we saw yesterday.
New monument to that mass criminal in the Russian city of Volgograd
This Wednesday a monument to Stalin was inaugurated in the center of the city of Volgograd, called "Stalingrad" between 1925 and 1961. The bust has been placed between two other Soviet marshals: Aleksandr Vasilevski and Georgy Zhukov. The three busts are the work of Russian sculptor Sergey Shcherbakov. The inauguration was carried out with military honors and was announced yesterday by the official news agency Russian RIA Novosti, which relates this inauguration to the anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. It so happens that this monument has been unveiled hours before Putin visits that city this Thursday.
The inauguration of the bust of Stalin was preceded by the placement in November of a large banner with a portrait of Stalin by the Volgograd authorities, according to a local Telegram channel. The banner showed the dictator in military uniform and mentioned him as "Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the USSR". At the bottom of the banner was the old name of the city: "Stalingrad", a place name linked to the communist genocide and that the local authorities want to recover.
In fact, on Monday the entrance signs to the city appeared with a white sign with the name "Stalingrad" and the name "Volgograd" crossed out just below. Local media have stated that it is only a commemorative gesture of the Battle of Stalingrad, but before it was done for only one day and now it is scheduled for four days. This campaign to restore the Stalinist name has provoked criticism among residents .
The whitewashing of communism and Stalin by the Putin regime
The unveiling of that infamous monument in Volgograd is no surprise. The Putin regime has spent years whitewashing the figure of Stalin. In 2014, the current Russian dictator signed his private law of "historical memory" to prevent the equating of two totalitarian and genocidal movements such as communism and national socialism. In 2016, this law was used to fine a blogger, Vladimir Luzgin, for recalling the joint invasion of Poland by Hitler and Stalin, an invasion agreed upon by these two dictatorships in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and which gave rise to World War II.
In June 2017, Putin stated that the demonization of the figure of Stalin is "a way of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia". The Kremlin's campaigns to whitewash the communist dictator parallel the sympathy many Russians feel for this mass murderer, a sympathy promoted by the Russian regime itself. In 2016, Levada Center revealed that 28% of Russians considered Stalin a "great leader"; in 2021, 56% already thought so.
This whitewashing of Stalin's figure also translates into the concealment of his crimes, including the denialism of the Vladimir Putin regime towards the Holdomor, the Ukrainian genocide provoked by that communist dictator, in which Stalin's dictatorship used starvation as a weapon to kill millions of Ukrainians, including many children.
In this line of historical revisionism, in 2021 Putin promoted a legal reform to criminalize those who compare the USSR with Nazism. The law specifically prohibits "identifying the goals, decisions and actions of the leadership of the USSR, the command and the military personnel of the USSR with the goals, decisions and actions of the leadership of Nazi Germany." Pursuant to this law, in 2022 Russian opposition politician Leonid Gozman was arrested for comparing Hitler and Stalin.
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