31 March 2005: I have just heard on BBC Radio 4 news that a small town in Siberia has decided to erect a statue to Josef Stalin, the first new monument to the Soviet dictator in over fifty years. In Volgograd, he is to sit alongside effigies of Winston ChurchilI and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The same report informed me that in a recent poll in Vladimir Putin’s Russia over 40 per cent of participants believed that Stalin was a positive historical figure. Hence, it would appear that surprising numbers of Russians and Georgians, yearning for a ‘strong hand’, regard the tyrant as a great statesman and state-builder. Even if many others react with revulsion, it is evident that Stalin continues to exert a very powerful attraction not only on ‘ordinary’ people, but also scholars, journalists, TV broadcasters and their ilk. Why is this?
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