Experiments of a Communist tourist industry
They are tenaciously trying to put up a memorial to the honour of Stalin in Krasnoyarsk Territory, although it would be much more advisable to spend one’s efforts on other, more important sectors. They were not successful with their idea in Gvardeyskiy Park – so they tried to realize it inside the Pantheon of Glory. In Krasnoyarsk it did not work – so they made another try in Zheleznogorsk, where they did not suceed to put their plan through, either. Well then, there is simply nothing else one can do about it, except starting another try in Kureyka (the village, where Josef Dzhugashvili spent a few years in the internal exile - until 1916).
Maybe, they are not interested in Stalin at all: some fundamental struggle is going on, and obviously it is necessary for someone to bring Krasnoyarsk Territory and its governor into discredit. His Lordships tussle with eachother, while the toadying people come in for their share: and we, the inhabitants of Krasnoarsk, are to stand before the whole world in entire disgrace.
Unfortunately, the Krasnoyarsk “Memorial” organization is also involved in this PR campaign. Unfortunately – for Stalin as such is hardly of any specific interest to us: we are much more interested in the fate of the people, whose lives were destroyed during the years when he was in power. But as soon as; instead of the little old women in the streets, civil servants of various administrative authorities start to deal with the praising of Stalin, then we are forced to intervene in the fight – much to the amusement of the mass media. Thus, it became inevitable to neglect for a certain tiem our preparatory work for the forth volume of the Book of Memory, as well as a great number of other important and urgently necessary tasks, in order to once again put a stop to these stupid undertakings. Meanwhile, the initiative does not come merely from the municipal administrationanymore, but even from the regional authorities, and Pashchenko junior (Yevgeniy) rushed to the help of Pashchenko senior (Oleg – it was he, who had the idea to call a foundation into being and organize an expedition to raise Stalin’s old statue, which was thrown into the river Yenisey, together with it pedestal, in 1963, and which is now supposed to be rebuilt).
Rumours are spread that Stalin’s memorial is to be put up for purely commercial reasons. But it becomes evident to any person disposing of a common sense that this kind of an investment is not wothwhile at all. Stalin means a great leader to the Pashchenko brothers only; any common citizen of a western country, however, is filled with disgust, whenever the subject comes up to Stalin, just as if the conversation had turned uponHitler. One of my acquaintances, a woman from Germany, who has already made a trip on the Yenisey, wrote me that she would have immediately returned her ticket, in case the travel brochure had offered a visit of Stalin’s memorial. The lumpen-proletariat and the lumpen-intelligentsia, too, will not go there – they lack the necessary money. And those, who have enough money, will not necessarily travel to such places. Experts unanimously said: the Russian Tourist Union defined the project as being unprofitable and, in addition to this, entirely unethical. And these people know about the tourist business very well – as distinguished from the gobernor’s counsellor!
Well then, one may not expect any commercial benefit, but the political advantage is obvious. What strikes one about the whole matter is that the putting up of the memorial is being attached the greatest importance to, and this idea is supposed to be realized as soon as possible. They have the intention to also rebuild the pantheon afterwards, which will take a couple of years (and during this time will either die the lord and master or the donkey). “To mask the whole thing”, they are vaguely talking about the erection of a memorial to the honour of the victims of political reprisals and the former camp No. 503, which attained a regrettable faim (1). Strange to say that it were just the authorities in Turukhansk which, about one year ago, after having given their blessing to the Stalin project, plundered the settlement of Yermakovo: they had two rare locomotives taken away and left these objects, both exhibits of great historical value, with a scrap dealer’s. The mre thought of it makes us shuder; what is going to happen, when this very administration now sets about organizing the former Yermakovsk camps into a museum complex? But judging from outward appearances, this evil is not going to come on us. The pantheon will probably not be rebuilt – at least there is only little chance. Yermakovo is and will remain a plundered place. And Stalin’s monument will be erected already in the summer – and that was the spark that set the forest on fire.
Yet, there is another small, rather unpleasant detail about the story. Even if we do suppose that there were no political instructions behind, there was still some commercial aspect – although not a very clever one. It is obvious that, independent of the motives which lead to such a decision, the decision itself is an exclusively political one. Moreover, the whole matter was not limited to regional levels – one can see this from the fact that the project was even treated by the world press (one of its typical headlines: “Khloponin intends to put up Stalin’s Pantheon”). This political decision, however, has been taken without any further discussion by the public, without the consent of the authorities on the corresponding level – which is, in this case, the governor of the region. Some unknown businessman from Turukhansk or the chief of the region must not necessarily understand the situation, but the governor’s counsellor should realize that he is not supposed to take any decisions of his own and, besides, that he should not merely give good advice to the governor, but, from time to time, had better exchange opinions and discuss with him. He did not realize the importance of the matter. In business life this way of acting is called “self-delegation”, which,as a rule, ends in the dismissal of the daring person.
Khloponin was simply confronted with accomplished facts (to be more precise – he was made the scape-goat). I do not believe that the whole situation gave Aleksander Gennadevich much pleasure. At least he nowhas the right to ask the question: “Who is the master of the house, I or the cat?”
Khloponin made his opinion known to the !Izvestia” during an interview: “We do not intend to remove the old memorials, and we do not intend to build new ones, either”. Let us hope that this subject is now done with. However, the final clarification of the situation will only become evident in about three or four months. The chicken are counted in autumn – and in autumn we will see, who is the master of the house. In case Stalin’s monument will have emerged in Kureyka by that time – it is, in all probability, the cat.
1) After the decision dropped in 1949 about the construction of the railroad line from Zalekhard to Igarka, its realization was started from both ends at the same time – by two building supervisory boards: camp No. 501 from the west, camp No. 503 from the east. They managed to lay about 900 kms of rails. The construction, which was carruied out by camp prisoners, was stopped soonafter Stalin’s eath. Nowadays, the remains of this grand construction project, all ruined by permafrost, are called “the road of death”.
Aleksey Babiy, chairman of the Krasnoyarsk “Memorial” organization
25 April 2006, 08:44.