In present-day Russia, there is a segment of the populace that worships at the altar of the murderous tyrant who modernized the state, Josef Stalin. Despite the millions of Russians that he killed, there are those who lionize him because he is seen as a strongman who countenanced no opposition in his drive to make the Soviet Union a world power.
Alexander Prokhanov, a Russian writer, has praised Stalin’s “mystical victory” after the defeat of the Nazis in World War II and written that Stalin’s “red project” was epoch-making. In television debates between supporters of the Stalin legacy and those who speak of his atrocities, the public often regards the Stalin groupies as the winners.
Stalin reached power in the 1920s; by the 1930s was utilizing show trials against other powerful people in the government. The numbers of deaths were staggering. For example, on December 12, 1938, the trials sentenced 3,167 people to death.
Stalin couched his actions in an appeal for modernity; in February 1931 he spoke to engineers, project directors, and officials, saying that:
[O]ld Russia… was continually battered by its backwardness… by Mongolian Khans, Swedish feudal lords and English-French capitalists… We have stayed 50 to 100 years behind the advanced countries. We have to make up this distance in 10 years. Either we bring this about or we will be crushed.
During World War II, Stalin’s forced collectivization killed millions of farmers in his attempt to industrialize.
Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian TV journalist at the state channel Rossija, has said that the reason many Russians still revere Stalin is the “devastating present” that includes broad corruption in government and administration, abuse of power, and social injustice.