Communists lay 4,000 carnations for Stalin birthday
Russian Communists placed four thousand red carnations on Stalin's grave beside Kremlin walls Tuesday to celebrate what would have been the Soviet dictator's 131st birthday.
Communist supporters raised 80,000 rubles (2,600 US dollars) in a fundraising drive with the slogan "Two carnations for Comrade Stalin," organiser Igor Sergeyev told the Interfax news agency.
Carrying a red flag and led by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, they piled the flowers beside a bust of Stalin that stands on his grave and round its neck.
Zyuganov on Tuesday called for the "re-Stalinisation" of Russian society in an open letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has frankly criticised the rights abuses of the Soviet era.
The leader warned against a draft law, proposed by the presidential council for the development of civil society and human rights, which would ban the glorification of Stalinism.
"Putin and Medvedev's stability is based on what Stalin and the Soviet authorities created. They have not created anything themselves in 10 years," Zyuganov said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The Communists of Petersburg and the Leningrad region, a splinter youth group, on Tuesday called for Stalin's remains to be returned to the Lenin Mausoleum.
Stalin's body was embalmed and lay beside Lenin's on Red Square until Nikita Khrushchev condemned his personality cult in 1956 at the 20th party conference.
His policies of forced industrialisation and collectivisation of agriculture and the imprisonment and execution of ideological enemies caused millions of deaths during his decades of rule.
Stalin remains popular among hardline Communists, most elderly and poverty-stricken, and he is widely respected for leading the Soviet Union to victory in World War II, although opinion polls show his influence waning.
In May, Medvedev condemned the "totalitarian" Soviet regime and "unforgivable crimes" committed by Stalin in a move that broke ranks with his predecessor Vladimir Putin, who has frequently praised Soviet achievements.
A report in November in the Vedomosti business daily said that Medvedev would next year launch a major anti-Stalinisation campaign, including declassifying the files that secret police compiled on ordinary citizens.
© 2010 AFP