Friday, February 9, 2018

Yabloko Presses for Law Blocking Memorialization of Stalin – Before It is Too Late

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 9 – Yabloko deputies in the St. Petersburg legislative assembly are set to introduce a proposal for a federal law that would prohibit all actions – including busts, monuments, and street names -- intended to perpetuate the memory of Stalin and introduce an administrative fine for those who violate such a law, Boris Vishnevsky, one of their number says.

            The measure would also require that all existing monuments to Stalin or mentioning him be taken down, with those identified as part of Russia’s cultural heritage then handed over to the museum foundation of the Russian Federation, he continues (

                Yabloko has been working on this legislation for a long time, Vishnevsky says, noting that a year ago he together with Grigory Yavlinsky and Aleksandr Kobrinsky introduced an earlier version. Since then, they have discussed it with human rights activists and legal experts in order to ensure that it is no way violates freedom of speech. 

            “We will see how our colleagues in the Legislative Assembly vote on this project,” he continues.  Refusal to support it will constitute “a public justification” of the crimes associated with Stalin. “A harsh judgment? Possibly. But I am certain” that in the age of the Internet everyone knows at least some of the crimes Stalin committed.

            In the summer of 2016, the Memorial human rights organization published the names of 40,000 Stalinist executioners. And there are many other sources that provide a picture of the horrific regime that Stalin and his henchmen inflicted on the country.  It must be condemned, not celebrated, he said, of what unfortunately will be an uphill battle for approval of this measure.

            “Why is this important?” Vishnevsky asks rhetorically, noting that “in Russia today, precisely a Stalinist state is being built at unbelievable speed,” one “where ‘state interests’ are elevated above everything else,” “where the individual is dust under the heels” of those in power, and “where all who are against the authorities are either enemies or agents.”

            In this neo-Stalinist state that Vladimir Putin is building, “the country is a besieged fortress surrounded by enemies, ‘the organs’ never make mistakes … leader is always right and knows what must be done and must be supported by all,” Vishnevsky says.

            Everyone knows what this kind of state led to in the past.  “It must be stopped now; tomorrow may be already too late.”

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