Stalin to be honoured in Russia's war monument

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The Independent Online

More than 40 years after the body of Joseph Stalin was taken from its mausoleum on Red Square in disgrace, a monument to the Soviet dictator is to be erected in Moscow.

The sculpture is part of Russia's celebration of the 60th anniversary of victory in the Second World War, a feat which many Russians believe would have been impossible without the ruthless "man of steel".

Stalin will not appear alone. He will be flanked by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, the three world statesmen at the historic Yalta Conference in 1945. Oleg Tolkachev, a Russian senator, said yesterday that the monument was not supposed to glorify Stalin but to reflect the Soviet Union's historic Great Patriotic War victory over Nazi Germany.

It would not, he told Ekho Moskvy radio station, become "a monument to tyranny but a monument to the leaders of the three powers who had vanquished Hitlerism". The monument, to be unveiled before 9 May or "Victory Day", is likely to leave many elderly survivors of Stalin's brutal rule feeling uneasy.

The Russian media said that it had already "provoked a stormy reaction in Russian society", referring to unease about the monument among human rights activists. Stalin had the blood of millions on his hands. How many died under his ruthless leadership is disputed but some estimates put the figure as high as 20 million.