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PostThere's No Stalin "Rehabilitation" (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 02/02/13 11:39 am)
There is no rehabilitation of Stalin going on in Russia. (See JE's comments on Randy Black's post of 2 February.)
Putin is an inveterate anti-Communist who has rehabilitated instead various tsars, especially Alexander II (Nikolai II was already entirely rehabilitated before Putin appeared, and is being canonized by the Orthodox Church). Remember that it was during Putin's regime that Solzhenitsyn was lionized as a hero of the nation, Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya ulitsa in downtown Moscow ("Big Communist Street") was renamed "Solzhenitsyn Street," and Solzhenitsyn's "First Circle," about the unspeakable horrors of the Stalin period, was made by the Russian state television into the most popular television mini-series ever shown in Russia. "First Circle" is an allusion to Dante's First Circle of Hell. The mini-series was made by Gleb Panfilov, in whose house I have been a guest more than once, who was one of the great Soviet movie directors starting from the 1960s, a friend of Truffaut and Fellini, and is extremely disturbing.
A feature film called "Khranit' Vechno," mistranslated as "Treasure Forever," was made on the basis of the television mini-series and is available with English subtitles. I highly recommend it to WAISers.
Stalin's image appears from time to time in connection with WWII--the "Great Patriotic War," as the Russians call it. It's only natural--he played, after all, the major part in the Soviet war effort. To remember this is not the same as to revive or rehabilitate Stalin.
Lenin monuments, so ubiquitous in Soviet times, have almost disappeared in Russia. There are a few classics like the big one on Oktyabrskaya Square in Moscow, which remain, but others have been gradually replaced. The huge statue of Lenin in the main hall of St. Petersburg's Moscow railway station has been replaced by an equally huge statue of Peter the Great.
JE comments: But to highlight the Leader's role in the Great Patriotic Victory--isn't that a teeny bit of Stalin nostalgia? I do not see a contradiction between acknowledging the suffering of Stalin's victims and celebrating his victory in war. Recall the "Great Bad Man" concept brought up by Nigel Jones earlier today (2 February).