Posters of Joseph Stalin will be put up not only for this year's Victory Day parade in Moscow, but for other celebrations as well, the city's mayor, Yury Luzhkov, said on Tuesday.
Moscow City Hall revealed plans on February 17 to set up billboards in commemoration of Stalin's role in WWII in the run-up to this year's 65th Victory Day Parade on May 9.
Vladimir Makarov, the head of Moscow's advertising and design committee, said billboards focusing exclusively on Stalin's wartime achievements would only be placed at 10 sites across the city, including the Poklonnaya Memorial Park, and in front of the Bolshoi Theater.
The plans stirred controversy among Muscovites and provoked anger from human rights activists, but won the sympathy of war veterans.
"The falsifiers are deliberately crossing the line in order to strain the situation further. The Moscow war veterans condemn the mass purges but think highly of the general results achieved under Stalin's rule," Vladimir Dolgykh, the head of the Moscow War Veterans Organization, said.
"History will put everything into place," Dolgykh said, adding that excluding Stalin's name from the Tehran or Yalta Conferences would be unjust.
Luzhkov said "the bacchanalia in the media" has distorted the officials' plans to conjure up an image of the whole city being filled with Stalin's posters.
"I am not an admirer of Stalin, but I am an admirer of objective history," the mayor said, adding that the posters would be set up "in adequate proportions" for the Victory Day celebrations and other festivities.
Stalin's name, which has not been present in Moscow's festive decorations since Soviet times, came to the focus of public attention last summer, when the Kurskaya station of the capital's subway was under reconstruction.
After the station was reopened in summer 2009 after reconstruction, a wall inside its lobby carried an inscription from the old Soviet anthem: "Stalin brought us up to serve the nation well; he inspired us for labor and feats." The inscription originally appeared on the wall back in 1950, but was removed in 1961.
A human rights organization then sent a protest to Luzhkov, saying it deemed the restoration of inscriptions glorifying Stalin an insult to the memory of those who had died in labor camps under Stalin.
In the 1930s-1950s millions of people were executed on fake charges of espionage, sabotage, anti-Soviet propaganda or died of starvation, disease or exposure in Gulag labor camps. According to official statistics, 52 million were convicted on political charges during Stalin's regime and 6 million were sent out of cities without any court verdict.
Moscow's cultural heritage committee deemed the phrase "unacceptable" and told the Moscow Metro to remove it.
But Moscow's chief architect Alexander Kuzmin said the phrase should be preserved, as during reconstruction work it is important to recreate the original features. He said a memorial to Stalin could also be restored in the subway station lobby.
MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti)