'Children, learn to value Stalin,' Russian pupils told

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Former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is back in fashion in Russia as the Kremlin condones history textbooks that honour the Soviet leader (1878-1953) as renovator of the country. "Children, learn to value Stalin," the Gazeta newspaper recently summed up the message by the textbook's authors. Stalin, the synonym for state-ordered terror and torture, still has his followers, especially among the communists.

However, even non-communists seem to long for someone like Stalin, public opinion polls suggest. Historians and human rights activists complain about an unprecedented misrepresentation of history and accuse President Vladimir Putin of ignoring it.

"Many now present Stalin as an efficient manager, who did a good thing with his collectivization, industrialization and the Second World War victory," the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group for Human Rights, 80-year-old Lyudmila Alekseyeva, said.

This "dangerously flattering picture" ridiculed millions of innocent victims of the regime, she said.

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