Russian communist businessman erects monument to Stalin
An attempt to revive the memorial heritage “the leader of the nations” financed by the head coach of the Russian national freestyle wrestling team Dzambolat Tedeev
In separatist South Ossetia, plans to erect a three-meter monument to Joseph Stalin. The initiator of this project is the head coach of the Russian national freestyle wrestling team Dzambolat Tedeev, who allocated money for the construction of Stalin Square in his native village Tsnorisi, and also acquired a Stalin monument from the Ossetian sculptor Ibragim Khayev. According to the project, the figure of Stalin will be placed in the center of the square.
«Initially, the monument was made, as they say, for himself. But Dzambolat Tedeev decided to buy my work», – Khayev is quoted by local media.
Many in the Tskhinvali region, as well as North Ossetia, consider Stalin an ethnic Ossetian, although according to official figures, Joseph Dzhugashvili was an ethnic Georgian.
According to the decree of the de facto South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov, the old name of the city of Tskhinvali — «Stalinir» alternatively used this year as the capital of breakaway South Ossetia during World War II events.
It is noteworthy that similar decisions were made by separatist leaders in Ukraine. So, according to the decrees of the local de facto authorities, in the days associated with the memory of the Second World War, in relation to Donetsk, it was decided to use its former name — «city of Stalino», and regarding Luhansk — «Voroshilovgrad city».
On the territory of the rest of Georgia controlled by Tbilisi, since 2011, it is prohibited to use communist and Nazi symbols. In 2013, the Georgian parliament adopted amendments to the law «Freedom Charter», according to which, persons promoting communist and fascist symbols will first receive a warning, and in the event of a repetition of this offense – can be fined approximately $ 600. As the initiators of the amendments stated then, the reason for the amendments to the existing law was the more frequent restoration of monuments to Joseph Stalin in Georgia. Voting to amend «The Freedom Charter» turned out to be one of those rare cases when the opposition and the ruling power deputies took a single position. Parliament of Georgia adopted the bill in the second hearing by 83 votes to 3.
The largest monument to Stalin in Georgia was located in the central square of the city of Gori, where Dzhugashvili was born, and was dismantled in June 2010. The Georgian authorities intended to move the monument to the territory of the Stalin house-museum, however, the six-meter figure of Stalin, erected during his lifetime in 1952, is still in one of the warehouses..
In 2011, the Georgian authorities announced plans to erect a memorial in Gori in memory of those killed during the August 2008 war and victims of Soviet repression. The memorial was supposed to take the place of the dismantled monument to Stalin. However, this project never came to fruition..
Professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Administration Tornike Sharashenidze believes: supporting the myth that Joseph Stalin was an Ossetian, and erecting a monument to him, in separatist South Ossetia they are trying thereby to arouse interest in this region, which, according to the expert, is not visited by tourists. At the same time, Sharashenidze recalled that, for example, according to statistics, the functioning Stalin Museum in Gori is the most visited museum in Georgia..
«Compensating for uncertainty»
George Mchedlishvili from the University of Europe does not find it surprising that attempts to revive the cult of Stalin are being made in separatist formations, which are supported by Russia. He explains this by the fact that for the past two decades Russia has been engaged in «reshaping history» and attempts to return «former greatness».
«The figure of Stalin, under whose rule the Union became an industrial state, and even with nuclear weapons and the main force against Nazism, is the best fit for such a narrative. Naturally, in parallel with this, there is a suppression or minimization of the negative aspects of Stalin’s rule, such as an alliance with the same Hitler until 1941, as well as massive repressions against one’s own people.», – says the political scientist.
In the case of North and South Ossetia, according to Mchedlishvili, the version that Stalin was an Ossetian, «flatters the pride of a small people». As the expert notes, even in Georgia there are often people who admire Stalin and his Georgian origins..
«Especially in times of poverty and unemployment, having a major international figure in your nation somehow compensates for insecurity and lack of self-esteem. In today’s Tskhinvali region, along with poverty and corruption, self-perception is even more flawed due to the lack of recognition of this territorial entity torn away from Georgia, and therefore «possession of Stalin» – big compensation for this inferiority. And besides, by this, Tskhinvali underlines its loyalty to Russia and, in particular, to Putin, who plays a major role in restoring the image «the leader of the nations», – summarized Georgy Mchedlishaili.