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Luzhkov Sticks to His Vow To Raise Stalin Billboards

Critics of Luzhkov?€™s plans say Josef Stalin?€™s legacy is best forgotten. Igor Tabakov

Mayor Yury Luzhkov will raise 10 billboards of Josef Stalin around Moscow to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, despite objections from United Russia and rights groups.

Luzhkov said he was not a “Stalinist” but would allow the billboards to be raised as part of the Victory Day celebrations on May 9 at the request of war veterans, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The 10 billboards, featuring Stalin with Soviet workers and collective farmers, will be placed around the city.

The plan has sparked an outcry from critics who say that Stalin’s legacy is best forgotten. Senior United Russia officials have condemned the idea, and human rights activists with Memorial, which has conducted research into Stalin’s purges, said they would raise alternative billboards that contained information about Stalin’s wrongdoings. Anarchist groups have threatened to destroy the Stalin billboards with paint.

The authorities have promised that the billboards will not be placed on Red Square, avoiding the potential embarrassment of U.S., British and French troops — who will participate in the Victory Day parade this year?  — being asked to march under Stalin’s watchful gaze.

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