Thursday, October 18, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Digging Up Stalin in Barnaul

Paul Goble

Vienna, October 18 –Russians in Barnaul who revere the memory of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin hope to dig up a memorial to him that was buried during Nikita Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization campaign a half century ago and restore it to a place of honor in their Siberian city of 600,000.
But as the Russian Agency for National News reported today, their project faces a number of hurdles. First of all, they have so far collected only 5,000 rubles (about 200 US dollars) for this project, far less than they will need to exhume the statue and put it back up (
Second, local officials appear anything but enthusiastic about this effort. On the one hand, the city’s cultural commission told this project’s supporters, Barnaul has already filled its most public space with monuments. And putting a statue of Stalin there would “destroy the architectural arrangements.”
On the other, they noted, it might be possible to put the statue somewhere else, perhaps through the creation of “an alley of historical memory” where the city could commemorate “various people who had left their mark in the history of the country.” But they pointed out that they do not yet know whether Stalin would make that list.
And third – and this couldin fact put a stop to this effort – the advocates of digging up the Stalin statue do not know precisely where it is buried. As a result, the Stalin enthusiasts are currently digging or planning to dig in several places around the city in the hopes that Stalin will once again turn up.

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