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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Russia marks 60th anniversary of Stalin's death

Devotees of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, whose brutal purges killed millions of innocent citizens and made his name a byword for totalitarian terror, flocked to the Kremlin to praise him for making his country a world power Tuesday, while experts and politicians puzzled and despaired over his enduring popularity. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov led some 1,000 zealots who laid carnations at Stalin's grave by the Kremlin wall in Moscow, praising him as a symbol of the nation's "great victories" and saying that Russia needs to rely on this "unique experience" to overcome its problems.
Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. Communists and other hardliners credit him with leading the country to victory in World War II and turning it into a nuclear superpower, while critics condemn his repressions. Historians estimate that more than 800,000 people were executed during the purges that peaked during the Great Terror in the late 1930s, and millions more died of harsh labor and cruel treatment in the giant Gulag prison camp system, mass starvation in Ukraine and southern Russia and deportations of ethnic minorities.

Putin, whose professed ideology draws heavily from Soviet statism, has made efforts to give Stalin a more positive historical evaluation. School history textbooks have been released stressing Stalin's role as an "effective manager" of the 1930s Soviet industrialization campaign, though historians express far greater skepticism about his supposed economic achievements.





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