Friday, May 7, 2010

Stalin’s Ghost Haunts Russia’s Moment of Glory

Stalin’s Ghost Haunts Russia’s Moment of Glory
Published: May 7, 2010

MOSCOW — As Russians prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany this weekend, an event hallowed here as the unalloyed triumph of good over evil, a major question still looms: what should be done about Stalin?

The passionate debate over Stalin, wartime hero or murderous tyrant, flared Friday when President Dmitri A. Medvedev lashed out against his legacy.

“Stalin committed massive crimes against his own people,” Mr. Medvedev said in remarks released Friday. “Despite how hard he worked and the successes achieved under his leadership, what he did to his own people cannot be forgiven.”

Mr. Medvedev was not the first to broach this subject. Plans to mark the anniversary with the display of wartime propaganda posters emblazoned with Stalin’s image had already reopened this sore.

But the president’s comments were harsher than his previous statements on the subject as well as those voiced by Mr. Medvedev’s mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s paramount leader.

Not many in Russia challenge the historical record of Stalin’s atrocities. Millions of people were killed in prisons, forced collectivization, party purges and deportations of whole ethnic groups.

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