Dal Guardian del 25.6.2010 (ci sono voluti 57 anni…)
In Joseph Stalin’s birthplace, tyrant is finally toppled
Pro-western Georgian government tears down Gori statue of dictator and plans to replace it with monument to victims of war with Russia
Workers remove the statue of Stalin from Gori, Georgia Workers remove the statue of Joseph Stalin from the central square in his home town of Gori, Georgia. Photograph: Reuters
For over half a century a forbidding statue of Joseph Stalin loomed over Gori, the Georgian town where the Soviet Union’s most notorious tyrant was born. Nearby is the modest one-storey hut where the young Stalin grew up. There is also a museum, complete with Stalin’s personal railway carriage, portraits and letters.
But in a secret operation early today Georgia’s pro-western government ripped the monument down. The six-metre high bronze statue of Stalin kitted out in a full-length general’s overcoat is to be moved into the museum courtyard.
In its place president Mikheil Saakashvili plans to erect a monument to the victims of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.
The operation is likely to offend many Georgians, especially older ones, for whom Stalin remains a source of pride – despite the gulags, purges and other crimes.
The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev tore down thousands of Stalin statues after the dictator’s death in 1953. But the politburo gave exceptional permission for the one in Gori – a small city 50 miles west of the capital Tbilisi – to remain.
It is unclear why Saakashvili suddenly decided to send in municipal workers and police to cart the statue off.
“I think it’s a sign of Georgia’s western orientation, and of cutting links with the communist past,” Zaza Gachechiladze, editor-in-chief of the Georgian Messenger newspaper said.
He added: “But it’s also a controversial move. There are still some sentiments towards Stalin in Georgia. He’s seen as a local boy who achieved great heights and for 30 years was No 1 in the world together with Hitler.
“There is a kind of local patriotism here. This will be a personal insult for many elderly people in particular, who still love and worship him.”
Today officials defended the move, amid claims that police had stopped journalists from filming the statue’s removal, in some cases beating them.
“A new monument dedicated to victims of the Russian aggression will be erected at this place,” Zviad Khmaladze, a city council leader said, according to Reuters.
Russian warplanes pulverised Gori’s main square during the war in August 2008, killing a Dutch journalist who had been filming nearby.
The bombers also struck nearby apartment blocks. Russian troops and tanks occupied Gori for several weeks during the conflict, eventually retreating a few miles up the road to the rustic border with South Ossetia.
The statue was erected in 1952. Khrushchev’s denunciation of the cult of personality meant that Stalin – unlike Lenin – vanished from most squares and streets in the Soviet Union.
In recent years, however, Vladimir Putin’s regime has tentatively sought to rehabilitate the dictator – portraying him as a national leader who industrialised the Soviet Union and defeated the Nazis.
After the 2008 war, some officials and prominent Georgians called for the statue to be removed, arguing that it was offensive following Russian bombardment and occupation.
The Georgian government will now hold a competition for the design of the monument to war victims, said culture ministry spokeswoman Salome Macharashvili.
Gori is also home to some smaller statues and busts of Stalin, who was born on 21 December 1879 as Josef Dzhugashvili.
Stalin wasn’t the only ambitious Georgian revolutionary to go on to bigger things. Other Georgians who played a central role in the history of the Soviet Union include Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s Georgian confidante and the head of his secret police.