A state-backed initiative to immortalise Russia’s former rulers will see a new bronze statue of Joseph Stalin erected in the Russian capital, stoking mounting concern that efforts are underway to whitewash the crimes of the former dictator. Stalin will join statues of Vladimir Lenin, Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin in the Alley of Rulers by Moscow’s Petroverigsky Pereulok on 22 September.
The initiative, the brainchild of the Russian Military History Society, seeks to celebrate Russia’s past rulers dating back to the princes of the Rurik dynasty, with sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, best known for his giant monument of Peter the Great on the shore of the Moscow River, charged with creating the sculptures.
Initially opened in May of this year, Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky described it as a significant step in the celebration of Russia’s past. “For the first time in history we can see all the rulers of Russia in succession [...] from Rurik to the heads of the Provisional Government,” he said.
However, critics are raising concern that the Russian government is seeking to rehabilitate the former dictator, choosing to downplay the atrocities he presided over in favour of focusing on his role steering the Soviet Union to military success during the Second World War. In January last year, a cultural centre celebrating Stalin was opened in the Tver region near Moscow, while Perm-36, a museum on the site of a former gulag, has come under increasing state pressure.
Medinsky will lead the opening ceremony for the new additions in a few weeks for the new additions, joined by Naina Iosifovna, the widow of Boris Yeltsin.