Moscow metro refurbished with praise for Stalin

Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:07pm EDT
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By Amie Ferris-Rotman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow unveiled a refurbished metro station this week decorated with an inscription heaping praise on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, sparking outrage from opposition and human rights groups Thursday.

The chandeliered, mosaic-covered vestibule in central Moscow's Kurskaya station now bears a line from an old version of the Soviet national anthem: "Stalin brought us up to be loyal to the nation, inspired us to labor and great deeds."

The leader of the small, pro-Western opposition party Yabloko called on the Russian president to remove the words, calling them a "violation of the memory of the millions of victims from Stalinism."

"There is no way that restoring this station to its original look can be justified," Sergei Mitrokhin said on his party's site

For the head of human rights group Memorial, Oleg Orlov, the inscription "gives an open and imprudent signal to the full rehabilitation of Stalin," he was quoted as saying on the site, run by staunch Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov.

Though millions of Soviets perished during Stalin's rule in Gulag labor camps or from famine, the dictator is still revered by many Russians for defeating the Nazis in World War Two.

Last year Stalin, who opened the Moscow metro in 1935, was voted Russia's third most popular historical figure in a poll run by state television channel Rossiya.

On news site, a spokesman for the Moscow metro defended the restoration: "We always strive to work in a way that optimally restores something to its original state.   Continued...