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Rehabilitating Joseph Stalin

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is enjoying a resurgent popularity in Russia. The Russian government has been sending clear signals in recent years that Stalin’s achievements must be revered. What is behind the government’s move to rehabilitate his image? Some opposition politicians believe it is tied to the efforts of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party to solidify its power.

“The state is hinting that Stalin’s tactics are also part of its arsenal for controlling the country,” says Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the opposition Yabloko party. The widespread sympathy toward Stalin, he adds, is also a result of the lingering impact of Soviet propaganda, which the Russian government never tried to erase from the public consciousness after communism fell.

“All countries emerging from totalitarianism and evolving into a normal form of government carried out a long and difficult program of reforms and re-education, of coming to grips with the past,” Mr Mitrokhin says. “Germany is still carrying out de-Nazification, while we never even began this process.” The government is succeeding in dispelling the outrage toward Stalin’s terror-filled reign.



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