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Victory Day Must Not Divide Us

Source: (Author), 19/04/10
The Moscow city authorities are persisting in their intention to put up portraits of Stalin in Moscow for Victory Day. The installation of these portraits should begin this week. The mayor’s demagogic references to some kind of “historical objectivity” are laughable.
The design of the city festivities is not a museum exhibition in which all the central figures should be displayed: Stalin, Beria (Stalin’s deputy on the State Defence Committee whom Stalin appointed a marshal), and Hitler who was first a friend to Stalin and then his enemy, and many others.
The display of portraits of Stalin is incompatible with respect for the nation that won the victory. Stalin is responsible for crimes against his own people and for the monstrous cost of the victory. And it is the crimes of Stalin which have up until this point clouded Russia’s relations with neighbouring countries, both those from the former Soviet Union and others. It was not the people who entered into a pact with Hitler in 1939; and it was not the people who took the decision to execute Poles at Katyn in 1940.
The display of portraits of the dictator in the context of the festivities cannot be interpreted in any way other than as his glorification, as a justification of the terror.
On Victory Day, thousands of Muscovites will be forced to look at portraits of the man who killed their fathers and grandfathers. It is not difficult to comprehend the kind of feelings this will evoke in them towards those who have “adorned” the city with portraits of the executioner. It stands to reason that many people will not accept the glorification of the murderer.
The display of Stalin’s portraits will provoke a spontaneous reaction on the part of Muscovites. Complete responsibility for any possible incidents and conflicts will be entirely on the conscience of the Moscow city authorities. We once again urge the mayor of Moscow not to transform a national celebration into a civic confrontation.
International and Moscow Memorial Societies
Moscow Helsinki Group
Sakhorov Museum and Public Centre
Glasnost Defence Foundation
For Human Rights
Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights