Museums Controversies Georgia

Stalin’s story gets a rewrite—again

The museum at the Soviet leader’s birthplace promises a more “realistic” interpretation of his life

Stalin has passionate supporters in both in Russia and Georgia, but many others condemn him as a ruthless tyrant

The museum honouring Joseph Stalin in his birthplace, the town of Gori, Georgia, will become more “realistic”, an adviser to Georgia’s ministry of culture has promised. While no longer “serving the cult of [Stalin’s] personality”, the institution will stop short of presenting an overly critical assessment of the Soviet dictator. It will not be “aggressive” about Stalin’s life and achievements, said Inga Karaya, a cultural heritage adviser to the Georgian minister of culture and monument protection, Guram Odisharia. According to the culture ministry, the new displays will be unveiled next year.

Karaya said the redisplayed museum “will be ‘realistic’ about what really happened during that time [of Stalin’s rule]” and will be based on “historical facts”, reported the website NewsGeorgia.ru.

Earlier this year, the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili railed against his political arch-rival, the prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, for his apparent sanctioning of a plan to return a monument to Stalin to the grounds of the museum, which is around 80km west of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Government officials later denied giving their approval and said the monument’s return would not be allowed. Karaya said a final decision had not been made but that if Stalin goes on display in Gori, it would be “exclusively as a museum piece and not as a monument”.

A Stalin monument installed in the city of Telavi in September was quickly doused in red paint by opponents. Stalin, who died in 1953, has passionate supporters in both in Russia and Georgia, but many others condemn him as a ruthless tyrant.

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