MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) – Administration of a Georgian city ordered to demolish a monument to Joseph Stalin, vandalized hours after being unveiled, the Georgia Online Russian-language news website said on Friday.
The three-meter monument, part of a World War II memorial, was commissioned by the Stalinets social group and the Union of Veterans in the city of Telavi in the country's Kakheti region on Monday.
It was daubed with red paint on Monday night by unknown individuals. The vandals also wrote “Murderer,” “Down with Stalinism!” and swear words on a nearby wall. No organization has so far claimed responsibility for the action.
“Administrative proceedings were launched in connection with putting up the monument. As the monument was installed illegally, it was decided that it must be demolished within five days by the people who installed it,” said Levan Berdzenishvili, the head of the city municipality’s legal department.
The chairman of the local branch of Stalinets, Shota Lazarishvili, said he was not going to comply with the administration’s order. He also announced the start of a campaign to collect signatures in support of the monument.
Stalin evokes mixed memories in Russia and the former Soviet republics, particularly in his native Georgia. While being credited with leading Russia to victory in World War II and strengthening the country, he is also remembered for sending millions of people to death in concentration camps during the infamous purges of the 1930s, and carrying out particularly savage repression in the Caucasus, including Georgia.
Vandals in Georgia have desecrated three monuments to the Soviet leader with red paint already this year.