The recent decision by Russian authorities to ban the rental of the satirical film “Stalin’s Death” has sparked a fierce debate about the legacy of the dictator, who ruled the country from 1929 until his death in 1953.
Conducted last year a public opinion poll showed that Russians believe Joseph Stalin the most outstanding historical figure, despite the fact that he is responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
There is an opinion that Stalin’s crimes should be assessed in comparison with the successes of the Soviet Union, achieved under his rule.
The horrors of the Gulag and other aspects of Soviet history is not the easiest theme in the training of young people in modern Russia.
Moscow state Museum of Gulag history is trying to convey the scale of repression along with individual tragedies.
Any person who is labelled “enemy of the people”, be it a petty criminal or a political prisoner, sentenced to years of forced labor.
“Twenty million people went through the concentration camps – said Roman Romanov, Director of the Museum of Gulag history. – More than a million were killed, six million were deported or forced migration”.
The repression reached its peak under Joseph Stalin, whom many praise, because he led the USSR to victory over Nazi Germany.
But at the same time he is responsible for the deaths of millions of his countrymen.
“It was not a natural disaster, – said Nikita Petrov, Deputy Chairman of the human rights organization “memorial”. – It was thought a crime of power against the people. And today people do not want to accept the idea, because people don’t want to think so about their country, their government. Each year, the dislike to the study of the topic is enhanced because it interferes with the glorification of the Soviet period of history.”
From monuments and memorial plaques – critics say that nostalgia for Stalin penetrates into everyday life.
For example, the St. Petersburg bus was decorated with a portrait of Stalin at the expense of voluntary donations at the initiative of a young Russian blogger, who denies that glorifies Soviet history.
“Although Stalinism was undoubtedly and infinitely cruel, without this repression, and that a shocking number of victims would not be transformation of this country – its transformation from an agrarian to industrial, from underdeveloped to developed,” – said Viktor Loginov, the organizer of the project “Stalinobus”.
The curators of the Museum of Gulag history believe that the younger generation does not talk about the realities of Stalin’s rule.
“Still living people who went through the concentration camps, and I sense the gap that exists between us, – said Roman Romanov, Director of the Museum of Gulag history. – Using programs that are held in our Museum, we are trying to build something like a bridge connecting generations.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Stalin a complex figure.
In October last year, he opened the monument to victims of Stalinist repression, saying that “it is a terrible past cannot be erased from the national memory” of Russia.
But critics accuse him of cynicism, arguing that political freedom and history is once again under attack in modern Russia.