NBC News: Stalin is making a comeback in Russia

(AP photo/Luis Andres Henao)

NBC News has a disturbing story today about the growing respect for Stalin in Russia. The story opens with the laying of a cornerstone for a new Stalin Center which is intended to present “a positive view” of the man who killed and imprisoned millions of people during his rule.

“Stalin was the best master. He won the war and built the country from ruins,” Aleksey Zorov, 44, a local businessman who is the sponsor of the new center inaugurated May 8, told NBC News…

Under Stalin’s rule, approximately 1.7 million Soviet citizens were evicted from their homes and taken to forced labor camps. About 690,000 were executed. Yet in recent years, statues have been erected around the country celebrating the man as a national hero who defeated the Nazis and oversaw an era of modernization.

Those totals don’t include the Holodomor aka the forced famine that killed somewhere between 4 million and 10 million people in Ukraine. I’m guessing that won’t get much space at the new Stalin Center.

The article argues the cult of Stalin has to some degree been revived by Putin who can point to Stalin as a way to suggest his own crackdowns on the political opposition (including the attempted murder of leading opposition figure Alexi Navalny) aren’t that extreme in historical context. But NBC reports some of the growing fondness for Stalin comes from people who feel Putin is actually too weak for their taste.

In Bor, as flags depicting Stalin’s mustachioed face flapped in the wind, speakers at the Stalin Center’s commemoration mocked today’s Kremlin as weak and subservient to Russia’s enemies, characterizing Putin’s hard-line foreign policy as not confrontational enough toward Western powers and criticizing him for the country’s current economic woes…

“Our crawling economic growth is a shame! Our population shrank by 670,000 last year. Five thousand businesses closed down in our region,” said Vladislav Yegorov, the first secretary of the Communist Party’s local branch. Russia’s oil-dependent economy went into recession during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, and millions of Russians have fallen below the poverty line…

Zorov, the center’s sponsor, was equally critical. “Putin is falling behind,” he told NBC News. “Our authorities are scared of even the dead Stalin. All they can do is rob people.”

Back in 2019, Vice did a report about the surge in Russian fondness to Stalin. In this report you’ll see some of the same things outlined by NBC News, i.e. Putin has helped revive Stalin but at the same time many of the Stalinists consider Putin a weak leader in comparison. One man filmed in this report said, “compared to our government now, Stalin is a god.”