(TBILISI)—A community of mainly Georgian veterans who served in the Red Army in World War II and who continue to worship Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin harshly criticized the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, for his initiative to transfer Stalin’s body to his native Georgia.
Georgian Stalinists Slam Kadyrov’s Initiative to Bury Stalin in Homeland
By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, November 24
Grigory Oniani, the head of Georgia’s Stalinists, says that the brutal leaders rightful place is in Moscow, alongside other Soviet luminaries.
“I would like to address the leader of Chechnya...I want to say that none of this is his business,” said Oniani.
David Razmadze, the city council chair in Stalin’s home city of Gori, also believes that the repatriation of his city’s most notorious son is unacceptable, adding that as the former leader of the Soviet Union, “Stalin’s place is in Moscow”.
Razmadze, however, voted with other members of Gori’s City Council to re-erect a statue of Stalin that was removed in 2010.
Archil Chkoidze, the chair of the King Erekle II Community - an NGO whose goal is to foster closer relations between Georgia and Russia, also believes that transferring Stalin’s body to Georgia will be economically profitable for the country.
“From a commercial point of view, this will be very good for Georgia. It will attract more tourists and bring more money,” Chkoidze added.
Levan Berdzenishvili, a member of the opposition pro-Western Republican party, reiterated that the official use of Communist symbols in Georgia is prohibited, and called the possibility of Stalin being reburied in the country of his birth “entirely unrealistic”.
“As for Stalin’s body, where should he be buried? At the Mtatsminda Pantheon? It’s already enough that his [Stalin’s] mother is buried there. We do not need another additional burden,” he added.
Political expert Gia Nodia believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin will never allow Stalin’s body to be transferred to Georgia after he’s spent the better part of a decade cultivating an image of Stalin as one of Russia’s greatest leaders, while also erasing the memory of the tens of millions of Soviet citizens he had killed, deported or imprisoned.
“Putin’s model is Stalin. He dreams of restoring the Russian Empire. I do not think he will have any wish to get rid of Stalin,” the expert assessed.
Kadyrov recently told Russian state-run news outlet Interfax that he suggests burying Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin's body, handing over the remains of Joseph Stalin to Georgia and commemorating Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
"I have spoken many times about the need to bury Lenin, though personally for me it makes no difference that he is resting there (in a Mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Sqaure). When I am asked, I state my opinion," Kadyrov said in the interview.
Kadyrov went on to say that as Georgia was an integral part of the Soviet Union, it would be logical and fair if the country had the chance to bury Stalin.
“Millions of people in Russia could take a deep breath knowing that Stalin's spirit has finally left Russia,” he added, before going on to say that Russia should officially commemorate Khrushchev with a monument or a site of national significance.
“Khrushchev made an enormous contribution to the triumph of justice with regard to the Chechen and Ingush people,” said Kadyrov.
This is not the first time the Chechen leader has publicly denounced Stalin who deported the entire Chechen population - two and a half million of people- to the stepped of Kazakhstan in February 1944, after accusing them of collaborating with Nazi Germany during World War II.
Nearly 200,000 people reportedly died during the deportations.
In 1956, Khrushchev ordered the KGB to let Chechens go back to their homeland and had all of Stalin’s statues pulled down in attempt to liberalize Soviet society and reverse the cult of personality that had been cultivated during Stalin’s nearly 30-year-rule.
Georgia remained the only Soviet republic to commemorate Stalin’s life long after Khrushchev’s initiatives.
Moscow has not responded to Kadyrov’s comments.
Born Iosef Besarion Dzhugashvili to a poor family in Gori, Stalin had hoped to become a poet and priest prior to turning his attention to petty street crime and, later, revolutionary activities.
He joined the nascent Bolshevik movement in Tbilisi and later became part of Lenin’s inner circle in the lead-up to the October 1917 Russian Revolution. He was distrusted and despised by both Lenin and the revolution’s ideological head, Leon Trotsky, who considered him too poorly educated and hot tempered to be in a position of power.
Following Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin outmaneuvered Trotsky to gain control of the Soviet government. From the time of his rise to his death in 1953, Stalin was responsible for the death, deportation and imprisonment of up to 25 million Soviet citizens.
In a poll conducted by the Levada Center, a Russian independent research organization not affiliated with the Kremlin, Russian citizens were asked to list 10 greatest historic figures of all time.
The poll said 38 percent chose Stalin as their top individual, with Putin and Pushkin coming in a close second with 34 percent. The Soviet Union’s last President, Mikhail Gorbachev, came in last with 6 percent.
The results were vastly different than that of a similar poll done in 1989, where 12 percent chose Stalin.