The Atlantic

Is Stalin Making a Comeback in Russia?

A statue of the Soviet dictator in Russia’s third-largest city says much about the country today. But it’s not necessarily a win for the Kremlin.
Source: Courtesy of Eva Hartog

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia—To find Joseph Stalin here in Russia’s third-largest city, drive down the main thoroughfare, Red Аvenue, past Lenin Square. At the Ob River, turn left on Bolshevik Street until you reach a two-story wooden building with traditionally carved window trimmings.

There, at the Communist Party’s local headquarters on a sunny day in May, the city’s mayor unveiled the bust of the “Generalissimo” to the dramatic opening chords of Beethoven’s Fifth.

In the same courtyard stands a giant head of Vladimir Lenin, another anachronism in this neighborhood of new high-rises. But while Lenin’s ubiquity across Russia has, paradoxically, made him practically invisible to the eye and Russian consciousness, where Stalin reappears, controversy never trails far behind.

The Soviet dictator remains a complicated figure in Russia: He presided over an era of brutality marked

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