Stalin buses may appear on Russian streets
Published: 22 April, 2011, 17:16
A commuter bus with a portrait of Joseph Stalin in St. Petersburg (RIA Novosti / Rostislav Koshelov)
Buses bearing portraits of Joseph Stalin may appear in several Russian cities as the country prepares to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9.
The decision has been met with controversy by a society that remains deeply split over the role of the Soviet general secretary in the fate of the state.
Meanwhile, Mosgortrans, a company operating transport in the capital, told Echo of Moscow radio station that they have nothing to do with the idea and there will be no Stalin portraits on their vehicles.
Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights called the project a provocation, saying that it would only cause anger among the population. “We should not create yet another source of disagreements within the community. I am against such things,” he is cited as saying. Fedotov believes that federal authorities, such as Antimonopoly service should intervene in the situation. “Stalin is neither a product, nor a producer. Therefore it is purely a political advert, which is against the law,” he said.
The majority of the population considers Stalin a bloody dictator whose mass political repressions in 1930s claimed millions of innocent people and turned the lives of others into a nightmare. However, many still believe that Stalin was not that evil and Russia owes its industrial development to him and praise him for the victory in WWII.
According to a representative of the organizing committee of the “Victory Bus” action, Dmitry Lyskov, the role of the Soviet leader in the Great Patriotic War (as WWII is called in Russia) has been erased from history. The idea of placing Stalin portraits on commuter buses is aimed exactly at changing that situation, he told Echo of Moscow.
Along with Muscovites, citizens of Omsk, Novosibirsk, Ufa, Volgograd, Kirov and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk will also be able go for a ride on Stalin-buses. But whether they approve of the idea is a different question.
In May last year, a bus with Stalin’s image started circulating through Russia’s Northern capital, St. Petersburg, sparking fierce criticism among human right activists. The same day the bus was launched, it was attacked by unidentified individuals who completely painted over the portrait.The “Victory Bus” action organizers state that the idea has nothing to do with politics and they do not intend to give any judgments to the Stalin epoch.A Novosibirsk committee representative, Vasily Manokhin told Siberian news website – tayga.info – that their gesture is history-related and only those who want to see politics in the campaign see it. The main task of the action, he said, is to withstand those who “erase history” and deny the past. “France remembers Napoleon, as he is part of their history. And Stalin i