The Cult of Stalin

Alexei Navalny just shared a post on Facebook, and it really encapsulates what is happening in Russia right now:

My mom works in the archive in Rostov, and yesterday she told me a typical story.  The other day a girl came in search of references to her grandfather, who was of Greek origin, and worked as a doctor in Rostov.  It was easy to find him, first – the last name was memorable, and secondly, the doctor turned out to be famous.  In 1938, he was accused of creating an anti-Soviet cell to set the stage for the onset of the Nazis.  The grandfather denied everything.  He was advised to sign a confession, because then instead of 10 years [in prison], he would get 5 — but he refused, as there was no truth in the accusation.

He was exiled for 10 years, he served them all, and after Stalin’s death he filed a request for rehabilitation.  His case was raised, and they found out the following — the signed confession was forged, the two people who allegedly testified against him were never arrested or interrogated, and the third didn’t exist.  The investigator who faked the case and put an absolutely innocent man in prison was tracked down and punished.  Fiercely.  He was given 10 days in jail.

In the evening, my mother went to the copy center.  In front of her in line was a 38-year-old woman who was bustling and wringing her hands, her whole appearance showing terrible excitement.  She has a picture, she explained to everyone, a gift for a loved one.  It is a non-standard size, so it is difficult to find a frame.  Oh, how she dreams that now she would be able to do so!  At some point, the woman turned around, and my mother finally saw the painting.  It was a lovingly embroidered portrait of Stalin.

A recent poll by Levada Center published earlier this week showed that Russian society is split in their attitudes to Stalin’s legacy:

“If the prevailing attitude toward [Stalin] was negative at the start of the millennium, now a large proportion of respondents (39 percent) now evaluate him positively,” the Levada Center said. While 25 percent said they viewed the Soviet leader negatively, a further 30 percent identified their feelings as neutral, the pollster added.

In part, this is because the current regime is using Stalin’s legacy to justify their actions both domestically and abroad.

How this will end is unclear, but The Moscow Times quoted Levada’s Alexei Levinson:

“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.”

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