Newsweek

Why Russia Still Loves Josef Stalin

A recent poll found Russians have a disturbingly high reverence for the former Soviet leader.
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has seen a ressurgance in affection for the dictator Josef Stalin who was responsible for the death of millions during World War II.
07_21_StalinPutin_01 Source: Mikhail Metzel/AP

In the Soviet Union of my youth, Josef Stalin was invisible. His predecessor in the Kremlin, Vladimir Lenin, was everywhere, from the pins on our school uniforms to the statues or busts that seemed to adorn every public space. In those statues, his arm was always raised, palm outstretched, exhorting us toward the glorious socialist future. My native city had decided that Lenin superseded Peter the Apostle in world-historical import, so St. Petersburg became Leningrad. Stalin once had his own city—Stalingrad, the site of a ferocious World War II battle—but after the mustachioed despot’s myriad sins were exposed, the city reverted to Volgograd in 1961.

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