November 7th, up until a few years ago, was celebrated as an anniversary of the rise of Communist Party to power in Russia. I see symbolism in the controversy that is brewing at the present moment in Russia as this formerly important holiday approaches.
Only a few figures in Russian history are able to resurface through the centuries, Peter the Great and Mendeleev being some, Stalin being the all-time “favorite’.
There has been recent controversy regarding the possibility of removal of a monument to him from public locations, but that initiative ended with a fiasco.
Now Stalin’s grandson is fighting for the name of his grandfather and his deeds retaining some honor.
On June 22 the “Novaya Gazeta,” or the “New paper,” published an article where Stalin was labeled as a “bloodthirsty cannibal,” and his political support party NKVD “bound by much blood and the gravest of crimes.” The incident cited was the massacre of Polish officers in Katyn in Poland in 1940. Undoubtedly, this bloody massacre took place and there is now a monument on site.
However, Ebvgeny Djugashvili rejects such dark portrayal of his grandfather and has recently sued the newspaper that published it, asking for the “harsh words” to be taken, back, his grandfather’s name cleared, and a monetary compensation of $30,000.
Sergey Sokolov, the editor of the newspaper, stated that, “There is serious evidence which made our journalist make his statements, and we believe this trial will help make a legal judgment on Stalin’s guilt for the repressions.”
Altogether, as petty as a simple media lawsuit may seem, this is outstanding example over the controversy that still surrounds Stalin’s place in Russian history. Stalin was a powerful leader, whose achievements and merits are long-debated. There is a also a chance that along with other Communist leaders long gone who have been discredited by Russian historians, like Lenin, Stalin will be seen as someone who committed war crimes and genocide. Leaders mark political eras, and it would make sense that if the leaders are discredited and the overall years of rule of the party in Russia are labeled as “bloodthirsty.” The day of November 7th will stand as a dark reminder of crimes against humanity that once glorious, now descended to ground, rulers have committed.