Staunton, December 24 – The Penza Oblast Committee of the KPRF has opened a Stalin Center to popularize the ideas and practices of the Soviet dictator and suggest the ways in which these measures can be applied under current conditions, an action that has prompted opponents to launch a drive to put up plaques at the last known address of his millions of victims.
Georgy Kamnyev, obkom first secretary, says the center, which also features a controversial bust of the late dictator, will organize seminars, conduct tours, and promote research on the work of “’the father of the peoples’” and share it with the rest of Russia (newizv.ru/politics/2015-12-23/232613-gulag-im-v-pomosh.html and echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1681280-echo/).
Among the center’s other plans, Kamnyev says, are promoting Stalinist culture and combatting destructive Western influences on Russia and awarding 5,000 ruble (70 US dollar) Stalin Prizes to young people for essays on the history of the Stalin period.
Not everyone is pleased about the opening of the new center. Arseny Roginsky of Memorial, for example, asks how can anyone want to “popularize” a man who was responsible for the murder of millions of people Celebrating what he did and even more calling for its emulation now is “equivalent to a crime.”
“One has to hope,” the human rights activist says, that this is only a pre-election tactic by the KPRF to attract attention.” His hopes are shared by Valery Borshchev, another rights activist. Those creating such a center appear to have forgotten, he says, that the Soviet leadership itself denounced Stalin’s crimes.
“Let us hope,” Borshchev says, that “putlib opininon will not allow a return to the ideas and practices of Stalinism.”
Some Russians in Penza are doing more than regretting the opening of the Stalin Center. They, working with the Civic Union, have begun a campaign, called “The Last Address,” to put up plaques on the last known residence of those who fell victim to Stalin’s regime (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=567A523C84EF7).
Organizers plan to put up thousands of such memorial plaques in cities across the Russian Federation and in former Soviet republics. At present, they are organizing the production of such plaques and conducting archival research in order to identify the places where Stalin’s victims lived before their arrests and deaths.
Meanwhile, there have been two other developments on the Stalin front: Some Duma deputies want state financing for the Stalin Center. They argue that if Moscow can fund the Yeltsin Center, it can do no less for Stalin (regions.ru/news/2568637/). And occupation officials in Ukraine’s Donbas have put up a Stalin statue there (http://lugradar.net/2015/12/109796).
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