MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russian lawmaker Sergei Mironov on Monday condemned the sales of busts of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, one of the 20th century’s most brutal dictators, at a kiosk inside the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.
Visitors to the State Duma can buy a small figurine of the former Soviet leader for 6,000 rubles ($194) or a bigger bust for 30,000 rubles ($967). A full-length statue of Stalin smoking his pipe is also for sale for an undisclosed sum.
“I think such busts should not be sold inside the walls of the State Duma,” Mironov, the head of A Just Russia’s parliamentary faction and former Federation Council chairman, told reporters on Monday.
Mironov said claims by the kiosk’s staff that it had “no relation” to the Russian parliament itself were “nonsense.”
Stalin’s regime, which was forged with a system of prison camps and secret police, took the lives of millions of Soviet citizens during his almost 30-year reign. Historians estimate the total number of victims of Stalin-era political repression at anywhere between 3 million and 39 million.
He remains a divisive figure but is popular with many Russians, especially older people. A survey by state pollster VTsIOM last year indicated that 33 percent of Russians viewed Stalin positively, while 25 percent disapproved of him. Opinion of his is also divided in his native Georgia.
Critics have accused President Vladimir Putin of attempting to bolster Stalin’s reputation. Recently introduced state-approved school history books describe Stalin as an “effective manager,” and have significantly reduced the number of those estimated to have been killed by his regime.
The city of Volgograd was temporarily renamed Stalingrad, its World War II-era name, for several days in February this year to mark celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the battle in that city.