Under leader Vladimir Putin, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who purged between 20 and 60 million of his own people, has become increasingly popular in Russia.
The Russian Communist Party celebrated Stalin’s birthday on Monday at Moscow’s Red Square. Gennady Zyuganov, head of the party, gushed over Stalin to the crowd.
”Today, the experience and courage of Stalin, his genius and talent, should nourish all government officials who truly desire Russia to be kind, happy, and truly sovereign,” raved Zyuganov.
Zyuganov did not mention Stalin’s atrocious history and war crimes. Instead, he praised the mass murderer for leading “the Soviet Union to victory in World War II and stood up to the West during the Cold War.”
“By reinstating and continuing the best Russian imperial practices, following the war he created the most powerful block,” he continued. “A block of Slavic governments and their friends that held NATO at bay, which the entire world feared.”
The Communist Party in Penza declared 2016 as “the year of Stalin” and will conduct many events to honor the dictator. Local party chief Georgi Kamenev declared events at the local Stalin Centre will “counter the falsehoods and attacks on Stalin’s reputation and legacy with facts and the truth.”
Kremlin propaganda outlet reported the “long-awaited cultural center” opened on Monday.
“Time itself defines the actual heroes of today,” declared Kamenev. “The image of Stalin is becoming more and more popular, first as a person, but as a simple man too. He was very modest, even though he was the head of a huge country.”
The so-called Luhansk People’s Republic in east Ukraine, a breakaway region, unveiled a statue of Stalin this month. Luhansk is one of the areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels and Russian soldiers since March 2014. After Parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, east Ukraine declared itself independent from Kiev. The area’s leaders placed the statue at the offices of the Union of Communists of the Luhansk Oblast.
“At the present time the ideology, symbol, personality of Stalin is important not only for the Luhansk [O]blast, but for the entire world since once again Nazism is on the rise, and for victory over it we need the harsh, strong hand of the leader,” claimed local communist Oleg Popov. “Stalin should serve as an example of creation and restoration against the destruction reigning in Ukraine.”
According to an April poll by the Levada Center, the enormous economic progress under Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin justified all the “sacrifices” made by Russians, including the genocide of his own people.
The independent center polled the same question two years ago, but only 25 percent agreed. The latest poll is up to 45 percent.
“[Stalin is being rehabilitated because] the current Russian authorities and [President Vladimir] Putin in particular seek the legitimization and justification of their actions by resorting to the past. It gives them a certain endorsement,” explained Alexei Levinson, the head of the Levada Center’s social and cultural studies department. “There are two consequences of that: On the one hand, the state might triumph in the further consolidation of its power. On the other hand, we are engaging in a conflict with the rest of the world and our regime will not last long under such pressure.”
Putin has previously expressed nostalgia for the former Soviet Union. He once said the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. In April 2014, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told NBC News that Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union. Putin’s actions have indicated Yatsenyuk may be correct. Putin invested unused Olympic funds to start a fitness program that dates back to the Soviet Union. Putin also praised the horrific Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in World War II. Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science purged thousands of “unsuitable” textbooks from schools, eliminating the business of many book publishers. The only one left untouched was Soviet-era publisher Enlightenment, which is also owned by Putin’s close friend Arkady Rotenberg. Another example is Putin’s foul language law, which bans profanity in the arts–echoes of the Soviet days.
Communist leader Stalin murdered more people than Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Georgian historian Roy Medvedev listed the atrocities committed under Stalin:
Medevedev’s grim bookkeeping included the following tragic episodes: 1 million imprisoned or exiled between 1927 to 1929; 9 to 11 million peasants forced off their lands and another 2 to 3 million peasants arrested or exiled in the mass collectivization program; 6 to 7 million killed by an artificial famine in 1932-1934; 1 million exiled from Moscow and Leningrad in 1935; 1 million executed during the ”Great Terror” of 1937-1938; 4 to 6 million dispatched to forced labor camps; 10 to 12 million people forcibly relocated during World War II; and at least 1 million arrested for various “political crimes” from 1946 to 1953.
Author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claims the number is closer to 60 million, while writer I.G. Dyadkin suggests the number is between 56 and 62 million, “with 34 to 49 million directly linked to Stalin.”
Stalin conducted the Great Purge between 1936 and 1940, which eliminated Communist Party and government officials Stalin viewed as a threat. Historians believe the numbers of deaths connected to the purge are between 680,000 to 1.2 million.
He also executed the Holodomor, which means “extermination by hunger,” in Ukraine. Between 1932 and 1933, between 2.5 and 7.5 million people died due to a forced famine from Stalin, intended to end the Ukrainian independence movement. Stalin is dear to Russian imperialists for his work in Ukraine, as they consider Kyiv the birthplace of Russia. The regime received mass shipments of grain, but did not distribute enough to civilians. Stalin also forced Ukrainian farmers to participate in collectivization.
Stalin developed the gulags for criminals and those who threatened his regime. Figures show that he imprisoned ten million people between 1934 and 1947, but historians believe the number is higher. Officials believe 15 to as many as 30 million people died in the gulags from 1918 to 1956.