In the summer the first memorial of modern times will be erected in memory of Josef Stalin, who was the head of the Soviet State from 1922 to 1953. This was announed today by the governors counsil Yevgeniy Pashchenko on the occasion of a round-table conference about the development tourism within the region. “A Krasnoyarsk businessman had the idea to erect a memorial just like the one that once adorned the pantheon of the generalissimo in the district of Turukhansk. Sculptors have already been commissioned to take care of this work”, he added.
Let us recall that the pantheon of the leader of the peoples was one of the bigegst buildings to the honour of Stalin on the territory of the former Soviet Union. It covered an area of 400 square meters and was more than 10 meters in height. Its construction, done by forced laborers of the GULAG system, was begun somewhere in the depths of the Turukhansk taiga, on the banks of the river Kureyka, in the late 1940s. More than 200 people were involved in the project, among them a wageworker brigade from Norilsk. The blueprints of architect Khorunzhiy showed that the building was intended to outlast a period of at least 200 years.
Hundreds of larch tree stakes were used to build the pantheon – a species of timber which neither decays nor weathers. By special permission of “helmsman” Mao Tse-tung, particular windows were carried to the spot from China.
The walls were made all of marble and granite. A little later, the builders equipped the interior with curved Vienna chairs, a huge table with a seven-wick kerosine lamp, a wooden bed and even a copy of Marx’s “Capital” edited in 1933.
Themonumental construction was erected in memory of Stalin’s internal exile. From 1913 till 1916 the “father of all peoples” to-be served his sentence in the Siberian settlement of Kostino, Turukhansk region, and later in Kureyka behind the polar circle. Before the revolution Stalin lived in Achinsk for some time, in the west of what is today called the region of Krasnoyarsk. In the government of Yeniseysk the “father of the peoples” left behind a number of illegitimate children. up to this day historians have different opinions about their exact number. However, they are aware of the fact that Stalin did not support them in any way.
The initiative to close the pantheon came from secretary-general Nikita Krushchev in 1961. The memorial plce was left behind without further care. It decayed and collapsed. In 1995 it was finally destroyed by a forest fire. The remains were thrown into the river.
The odea of partly reconstructing the pantheon first emerged late in the 1990s alongwith a wave of what might be called exotic tourism – the sudden interest in GULAG objects and an increase of Josef Stalin’s popularity. A series of public opinion polls revealed that the generalissmo permanently ranks among the three most popular Soviet and Russian politicians of the 20th century.
In 2005 there were two attempts in the Krasnoyarsk region to put up a Stalin bust – in Krasnoyarsk and Zheleznogorsk. The final realization of such plans was, however, warded off by the authorities.
As the deputy governor of the region, Sergey Sokol, stated today, “such projects have to be initiated with utmost caution, for discussions on this subject could easily wound the feelings of certain sections of the population and cause political tension”.