“Justice for Jo”

© RIA Novosti. RIA Novosti

Stalin returns to provincial Russia by Alina Lobzina at 15/07/2011 18:36

Stalin returns to the Russian provincial town of Penza where a newly erected bust of the “father of all nations” was  unveiled last July

Speeches of the controversial leader and songs in praise of him are scheduled at the ceremony where the local department of the Communist Party hopes to see a significant number of local residents.

The monument was installed in the backyard of the building where the main office of the Communist Party is, and visiting it is likely to require a special permit.

‘Justice for Joe’

The request “to restore justice and unveil the monument or at least erect a bust to Stalin in the town” came from group of Second World War veterans, according to Vladimir Semagin, the second secretary of the regional committee.

“We called for donations but didn’t collect that much – 200,000 roubles ($7,120),” Semagin told Intefax, reported.

Luckily, “comrades from North Ossetia, where the monument was created” gave a helping hand, he added.

Local representatives of ruling party United Russia have refused to comment, local news web-site progorod58 reported, and human rights activists have taken a their usual strict stance.

“This praising of Stalin insults millions of those who died or suffered from his repressions,” Alexandr Brod, director at the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, said. “United Russia should have voiced their position and they just went hiding in the bushes,” he added.

However, a study earlier this year found that Stalin is becoming more popular, to the alarm of some.

Impervious to criticism

Penza communists, however, have shrugged off their critics, saying that “everyone has their own opinion”.

“The bust to Josef Vissarionovich has been erected on our territory, in the courtyard of the regional committee,” representatives of the party said.

And apart from Stalin, there is another soviet-era hero they want back to their town.

Karl Marx’s bust has been removed from Sovietskaya Ploshchad – the first place in Europe where he was immortalized in 1918 – to create space for an orthodox cathedral.

“We hope that the authorities will keep their promise and by the end of 2012 will erect it in the new place – Ulitsa Karla Marksa,” Semagin said.

Currently the bust is being restored.

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