HOPPING ON THE STALIN BUS

The latest kitsch of the Soviet-era nostalgia in Ukraine will be the “Stalin bus” – the bus with the likeness of Uncle Joe running along the streets of Sevastopol. The route is going to be launched on November 7, the anniversary of the 1917 revolution in Russia which brought communists to power 94 years ago.  The same kind of bus will be shuttling in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The initiative was spearheaded by a pro-Stalin Russian blogger in May, 2010 and given an official support of the Russian government. The Ukrainian and Belorussian communist-minded rulers are only aping the “elder brother.”

Radio Liberty reports that a bar-relief of Stalin was restored in the main hall of the Ukrainian central bank in Kyiv after the renovation of the building.

The case of young people who blew off the newly-erected monument to Stalin in the city of Zaporizhzhya last May, is still being investigated.

New textbooks in History have been published in Ukraine. The war with the Nazis in 1941-1945 has again been re-named into the Great Patriotic War (the term coined by Stalin), and the Generalissimo himself is characterized as an “effective manager” of the country.

On the day when Stalin died in March 1953 my father was on a business trip to another city. He arrived the next day and spoke about what he had seen in Chernivtsi (that was the name of the city). He said he had seen a Jewish woman who was sobbing in the street after she heard the news of Stalin’s death. “I don’t understand it”, he said, “With all this anti-Semitism started by Stalin, the doctor’s ‘plot’, the murdered poets (13 Yiddish poets were executed on the orders of Stalin the year before – V.)… and she was mourning his death…”

People’s memory is so elusive.

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