Communists push for Stalin monument in St. Petersburg

The monument to Stalin in Penza
After Communists succeeded in erecting a monument to Joseph Stalin in Penza, fellow party members in other cities are ready to follow their example.

­The branch of the Communist Party (CPRF) in St. Petersburg is considering raising money for the erection of a monument to Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until 1953. “First of all, a clear action plan should be developed,” Vladimir Dmitriev, the head of the party’s faction in the city’s Legislative Assembly, said on Wednesday.

The procedure for putting up a new monument is difficult, Dmitriev said. “Before starting to raise funds, we should be certain we will be able to fulfill the task,” he told Interfax. “We also should know the place.”

The final decision may be taken in autumn, when the Communists’ electoral campaign for the December State Duma polls will be in full swing. They are certainly hopes this could bring them additional votes in the parliamentary elections.

Russia’s former capital and second largest city has recently seen several attempts to remind the people of Stalin. While preparations were underway to celebrate Victory Day, the May 9th holiday which commemorates Nazi Germany’s surrender in the Second World War, posters with images of “the great father of peoples” appeared in St. Petersburg Metro carriages. Earlier, a bus bearing his portrait had taken to the city’s streets.

The controversial posters were allegedly put on the Metro by the Revolutionary Communist Youth Union, but the organization later denied it, referring to “anonymous supporters.” However, the young Communists said they backed the action.

This time, their older comrades seem to be ready to take up the initiative of the Communists in Penza, a city in central Russia. On July 15, they unveiled a bust to Stalin near their headquarters. The monument was created entirely with public money, and it took organizers a year to collect the funds.

In recent times, there were several attempts to put Stalin’s posters in other Russian cities. Everywhere, they had their supporters as well as their detractors, since many consider Stalin to be a hero, while others think he was a tyrant who repressed innocent citizens.  

A recent survey by the Russian pollster Levada Center has shown that 45 percent of Russians believe that Stalin played a “positive role” in history, while 35 percent disagree.  

Earlier this month, the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, said any moves directed at “de-Stalinization” posed a threat to Russia’s sovereignty. The country has its current status “because of the Soviet heritage,” Zyuganov said at a party assembly. Even Russia’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council was “Stalin’s gift,” he said.

In March, the Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights came up with a “de-Stalinization plan.” It includes the push to adopt a program for the perpetuation of the memory of all victims of the totalitarian regime. Among other initiatives is the proposal to ban civil servants from publically denying the crimes of Stalin’s regime.