Portraits of Josef Stalin not to be part of Victory Day celebrations

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The organizing committee for the May 9 celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the victory over the Nazi Germany is not planning to use any images, videos or other promotional material involving Josef Stalin.

"This never happened, not even in the Soviet era," a committee source said. This year, the organizers have also asked the regional authorities to refrain from carrying Stalin's portraits. This primarily concerns Moscow, where his portraits would have been posted along with other Victory emblems and symbols.

"I welcome the decision to drop this crazy idea. But what provoked this decision is also important," said Arseny Roginsky, head of the international human rights group, Memorial. According to Roginsky, it is highly improbable that Moscow's authorities have simply heeded public opinion. It is more likely that some important federal official or a senior United Russia party member played the decisive role. "Their statements have been made for a reason and in particular [Duma speaker Boris] Gryzlov's statement that Stalin was to blame for millions of deaths, must have been sanctioned by Russia's top officials," he added.

However, the human rights activist continued, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov continued to insist on what he called "restoration of historic justice" with regard to Stalin even after Gryzlov asked for Stalin's portraits not to be hung all over Moscow. "So if in the end they don't go ahead with it, that means that the decision was made at the top," he added....

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