Soviet legacy cast in stone

The key Soviet revolutionary who led Russia into a 70-year affair with communism, Vladimir Lenin, will be among the most important exhibits of a new museum inspired by totalitarian legacy to be opened in the former communist state of Bulgaria.

­Lenin will enjoy the company of one of the worst dictators in history, Joseph Stalin, and their statues could serve as a “welcoming committee” saluting visitors at the front of the museum.

The display in a Sofia suburb promises to feature over 100 historic works which used to be buried at warehouses for good, as many thought, but are now revealed again.

It has reportedly cost the government over $2 million to create the Museum of Socialist Art, which is scheduled to open its doors on September.

The selection of works captures images of the “working class” as well as various communist leaders cast in bronze or in oil, in various emotional states and stages of their life, but often manifesting ideological solidarity and joy with their neighbors, as was the case with Bulgaria and the Soviet Union.

The controversial display has given rise to “eternal debate” over whether similar museums functioning in a number of other former communist countries, like Hungary or Czech Republic, inform younger generations of the dreadful past of their grandparents, or rather induce a feeling of nostalgia and even empathy with dictators and their regimes.

For instance, a recent survey by the leading Russian pollster, the Levada Center, has shown that 45 per cent of Russians believe that Stalin played a “positive role” in history, with only 35 per cent left to disagree.

If, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, numerous monuments to Soviet leaders went to be demolished in Russia and overseas, with a breath of collective relief, the current social “trend” often sees monuments to Stalin and Lenin brought back to life and re-erected.

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