Stalin's portraits flying on Victory Day

April 29, 2010 at 7:52 PM
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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, April 29 (UPI) -- Portraits of Josef Stalin will hang in Vladivostok, Russia, on the anniversary of the Nazis' surrender to the Soviet Union in World War II, officials said.

Despite the Soviet dictator's criminal activities, "we should remember that for the few veterans still alive, Stalin and other commanders were their commanders," a city council member told RIA Novosti.

Stalin launched the Great Terror of 1936-1938 to purge the Soviet Communist Party of people accused of sabotage, terrorism or treachery. He later extended the campaign to the military and other sectors of Soviet society, historians say.

Targeted people were often executed, imprisoned in Gulag labor camps or exiled.

In later years, millions of members of ethnic minorities were deported in an ethnic-cleansing campaign, historical records indicate.

Yet many Russians believe Stalin pulled the Soviet Union through the war and freed Europe from Nazism, RIA Novosti said.

Vladivostok's portrait decision followed Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's announcement this month he would decorate the capital with Stalin's portraits during Victory Day celebrations May 9.

Human-rights activists protested Luzhkov's decision, threatening to stage demonstrations if the posters were put up. The Kremlin also said it was not happy with the portrait decision.

Stalin has not been represented in Moscow's Victory Day decorations for decades.

A Stalin bust will also be placed in the industrial city of Tambov, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow, in time for the anniversary, Communist officials said.

The Victory Day celebrations, where people gather in city squares, mark the date when the German Instrument of Surrender was entered into force, ending World War II in Europe. It was signed at 11:01 p.m. Central European Time May 8, 1945, which was 1:01 a.m. May 9 in Moscow.

Topics: Josef Stalin
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