MOSCOW – Scores of admirers of the late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin gathered at the side of his tomb in Moscow on Monday to lay flowers marking the 65th anniversary of his death.
Images showed Communist Party supporters clasping red roses and portraits of the former leader, as well as brandishing party flags as part of a wreath-laying ceremony held in Stalin’s honor.
The ceremony was led by veteran Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, and the party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election on March 18, Pavel Grundinin, did not participate.
Grundinin has repeatedly praised Stalin and qualified him as the best leader Russia has had in the past 100 years.
The Communist Party sees Stalin’s role as Soviet leader between 1924-1953 as positive for the nation.
Some 38 percent of Russians consider Stalin to be the most extraordinary figure of all time, according to a survey carried out last year.
During his 30-year stint as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union starting in 1922, Stalin oversaw the hard-fought Red Army victory against Nazi Germany in World War II and expanded the USSR’s grip across much of Eastern Europe.
However, his name eventually became synonymous with political purges, the murder of hundreds of thousands of people in secret prisons and Gulags, and disastrous economic policies that prompted widespread famine and the deaths of millions in areas such as modern-day Ukraine.
According to the NGO Memorial, the next generation of Russians are “historically removed” from the Stalinist era and do not have sufficient knowledge to be able to weigh up what happened.