According to the opinion of Aleksey Babiy, chairman of the “Memorial” Human Rights’ Organization, the rebuilding of Josef Stalin’s Pantheon is part of a big public relations’ campaign

According to the opinion of Aleksey Babiy, chairman of the “Memorial” Human Rights’ Organization, the rebuilding of Josef Stalin’s Pantheon is part of a big public relations’ campaign

A Josef Stalin statue was manufactured in Krasnoyarsk. It is supposed to be put up in the district of Turukhansk, where they began to reconstruct the pantheon to the honour of the Soviet leader. The realization of such plans is under consideration with the regional authorities, particularly with regard to a program for the development of tourism within tne region. The officials are sure that it is an excellent commercial project, which might become a great tourist attraction. No sooner had the idea about the reconstruction of the pantheon to the honour of Josef Stalin become public, people already started to talk about the “revival” of Soviet propaganda. A subject of topical interest, particularly after a series of scandals caused by an initiative of the Communists to put up a bust of the “Leader of the peoples” inside the Krasnoyarsk Victory Memorial. A little later it turned out that the idea of reconstructing Stalin’s pantheon in the Turuchansk region has an entirely commercial background - thought out by local businessmen. Thus, they expect an increasing inflow of foreign tourists. The person in charge of the development of tourism with the regional administration is deputy governor Sergey Sokol. Today we did not succeed to receive any comments from him. However, the governor’s press secretary, Igor Astapov, reminded to the words spoken by Alekasnder Khloponin about a month ago. At that time the man, who is the leading figure of our region, expressly pointed out that his administration is following political pribcipals which would neither allow the erection of new memorials to any Soviet leaders, nor would existing memorial places or statues be pulled down. Stalin’s new sculpture – 3,5 meters in height – will be sent to the settlement of Kureyka, where Stalin lived in political exile. The pantheon was built there in themiddle of the past century. It was a monumental construction, taking up an area of 400 square meters. The pantheon was closed in 1961. According to the words of Yevgeniy Pashchenko, councellor of the governor, the pantheon has already become a matter of growing interest among foreign tourists, although it has not been rebuilt yet: “As far as I know, the statue is going to be transported to this place in the second half of July. Late in July they will start on the rebuilding of the memorial place. Any political background is being “suspended”. We are talking about tourism, which is confirmed by a lively response from all parts of Russia. As of July 25 until August 7 a river cruise is going to be organized. It will lead tourists from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka and back to Krasnoarsk by steamship. During this trip a visit of the place of the future pantheon is obligatory – a serious, interesting and long-lasting excursion”. Representatives of the “Memorial” Human Rights’ Organization have an entirely contrary opinion of the whole situation. According to the words of Aleksey Babiy, chairman of the organization, it is of no importance at all, where Stalin’s pantheon will be erected. The essential point is that this project is nothing else but part of a big PR campaign enacted by the state to restore Stalin’s personality: “I am sure these plans are part of an extensive PR campaign, which is notcarried out by the Communists, but by those, who have the final say in the Russian Federation, by those, who perpetually describe and praise Stalin’s name and doings in an exaggerated way, always looking for a suitable excuse and justification”. Meanwhile, the businessmen from Turukhansk are in a very decisive mood. While the Krasnoyarsk public wraps itself in silence and only a few activists consider Stalin’s figure an absolutely immoral means of making money, the entrepreneurs have already agreed on a plan concerning further proceedings: they cleared the whole area and started activities on the reconstruction of the building. In case the regional authorioties do not oppose this scandalous construction project, a new tourist place will appear on the list of the places worth seeing in the Turukhansk region yet this year: “Stalin’s Pantheon”. It is to be expected that people can soon book a new travel route by steamer: “Krasnoyarsk – Dudinka – Krasnoyarsk”, including stays in the region of Turukhansk.

Autoradio-Krasnoyarsk, 30.05.06

 


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