News / Europe

    Stalin Statue Roils Georgia 60 Years After Dictator’s Death

    Stalin Statue Roils Georgia 60 Years After Dictator’s Deathi
    X
    August 14, 2013 6:22 PM
    This year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Georgia’s most famous - or infamous - son, Josef Stalin. VOA's James Brooke reports on how a missing bronze Stalin statue has become a lightning rod for controversy.
    James Brooke
    For 30 years, Josef Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist, killing as many as 20 million people through executions, exile and man-made famines.
     
    But here in Gori, Iosif Dzhugashvili, or Stalin, is a hometown boy.
     
    On Stalin Avenue, Gori’s Stalin Museum preserves the humble brick cottage where baby Stalin spent his first four years.
     
    Stalin is Gori’s No. 1 tourist attraction.
     
    Khatia Gogrichiani works at the city tourism office.
     
     “Stalin was a historical man, he was a great leader,” Gogrichiani said from her perch where she watches tour buses roll up daily. “People are interested in Stalin, his personality.”
     
    Infamous son
     
    But 60 years after the death of Georgia’s most famous - or infamous - son, Stalin is once again the center of controversy.
     
    Three years ago, Gori’s love affair with Stalin took a jolt.
     
    Under the cover of darkness, the pro-Western government of Mikheil Saakashvili removed a massive bronze Stalin statue from Gori’s main square.
     
    VOA tracked down the statue to an abandoned industrial site.  We found the six-meter Stalin lying face down in a roofless shed.
     
    Jugi Xidasheli, a Stalin fan, happened to be visiting at the same time.
     
    “Stalin’s personality is very dear to us - for everyone in Gori,” he said after inspecting the statue’s condition. “Everyone has their own opinions, but Stalin was born here. This is his city and his motherland. There absolutely should be a statue of Stalin in Gori.”
     
    Statue to rise again
     
    After protests and a petition drive, Gori’s city council now says: Stalin will rise again.
     
    By Stalin’s birthday, Dec. 21, the statue will be erected to a place of honor amid the gardens and fountains of the Stalin Museum.
     
    Ketino Akhobadze has worked at the museum since 1978.  She says she has never seen such a flow of foreign tourists, many of them day trippers from Tbilisi, a one-hour drive away.
     
    “People from all over the world come to visit from Poland, America, Yugoslavia, and Colombia, Brazil, Japan and China,” she said. “They come from every country, absolutely every country.”
     
    But other Georgians see more than commerce.
     
    Historians say 700,000 Georgians died under Stalin’s rule - half through executions here or exile to Siberia, and half in fighting during World War Two.
     
    Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, says most of his mother’s family was killed under Stalin.
     
    Wise leader?
     
    “If you ask me I would just destroy everything there,” Rondeli said, referring to the museum in Gori. “But many people say Stalin was a historical figure.”
     
    In a poll this year, two-thirds of Georgians called Stalin “a wise leader.”  On October 27, Georgians are to elect a new president.
     
    Opposition supporters charge that Stalin statues are popping up across the country - while Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili looks the other way.
     
    In response, Ivanishvili told VOA that these attacks are "the false politics of lies."
     
    "The truth is that we are not for restoring the statue of Stalin,” he added.
     
    With or without the big statue, many foreign visitors complain that the musty, Soviet-era exhibits at the Stalin Museum are frozen in time.
     
    Spanish tourist Jorge Martin says he is turned off by the museum’s "idolatry.”
     
    “There should be balance between what he did,” Martin said. “He beat fascism in Europe. But he also killed millions of people. So there should be more balance, and the materials should be presented in another way - not as if he were an old superhero.”
     
    After the election, the challenge will be for Georgia’s new government to modernize the Stalin Museum - to give equal time to his victims.
     

    You May Like

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs Tackle Sexual Harassment, Rural Health Care at Global Summit

    VOA talks to enterprising business people from India, Nigeria, Myanmar about their programs to help their respective countries overcome obstacles

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 17, 2013 1:54 AM
    Stalin has been hated by the Japanese because he suddenly declared joinning the allied in WWII breaking a peace treaty signed between Japane and Soviet Union even after the announcement of surrender by Japanese government. His administration took a couple of hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers to Shibeli and detained there under heavy works to die for many prisoners for a long years breaking international rules.

    What he executed during his administration must have changed and must have been different far from the spirit through which Lenin wished to build up communistic utopia.I agree he should be investigated retionally and scientifically. He should be learned from both plus and minus aspects by contempolary people.

    by: Anonymous
    August 15, 2013 1:41 PM
    Communism was against the nature or the custom of the humankind !!! Communist Figure is the cruel animal on earth !!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora