All posts tagged: Stalins

The Guardian view on Russia’s election: in Stalin’s footsteps | Editorial

The Guardian view on Russia’s election: in Stalin’s footsteps | Editorial

One of the curiosities of the Soviet Union was the serious weight its leaders attached to holding elections. In a dictatorship, why bother? Academic studies concluded that ensuring a 99% vote share for the only candidate on the ballot was a useful tool for civic mobilisation, and a way of isolating and intimidating anyone who aspired to a real democratic choice. Under the repressive, paranoid leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russians are going back to the future. Mr Putin’s 87% landslide in Russia’s presidential election – the highest percentage in any post-Soviet poll – confirms that, almost a quarter of a century after he first entered the Kremlin, the resumption of a form of totalitarian control is all but complete. Having changed the constitution to ensure he can continue to rule, a further victory in 2030 would see him surpass Stalin’s 31 years of dictatorial power. In a less shamelessly rigged contest, Mr Putin would probably have come out on top regardless. But this laughable margin of victory sends its own menacing message. The limited space …

‘I’m Stalin’s great-grandson – Putin is likely dead and body doubles been used for years’ | World | News

‘I’m Stalin’s great-grandson – Putin is likely dead and body doubles been used for years’ | World | News

Joseph Stalin’s great-grandson has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is dead and has been using body doubles for years. Speaking to the Sun, Jacob Jugashvili, 51, who is still involved in Russian politics, claimed that Putin has been replaced by actors who are “being manipulated” by a group of people who took power. He explained: “Putin has long disappeared, and instead of him, unknown and unelected persons who seized power in the Kremlin manipulate actors who do not look like Putin. To those who might accuse me of conspiracy: conspiracy is what the secret services of all countries are paid for. It’s their job.” Since Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine started, there have regularly been rumours that Vladimir Putin is dead or is dying. As recently as the start of this year, it was claimed that the authoritarian dictator used CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) in his New Year’s message. Speaking to the Express, Executive Director of Washington DC-based Wind of Change Research Group, Igor Sushko said: “The video was also clearly spliced together from …

I dig up skeletons of Stalin’s victims to give families closure | Close Up | Crimes Against Humanity

I dig up skeletons of Stalin’s victims to give families closure | Close Up | Crimes Against Humanity

“When you open a gravesite, the bodies, how they are organised, they tell the stories by themselves… they can tell us about how they disappeared, how they were killed,” says forensic anthropologist Meri Gonashvili. Gonashvili is a woman on a mission. Through detective-like work, the young Georgian anthropologist at Tbilisi State Medical University is hoping to identify victims executed by the Soviet secret police during the Reign of Terror, also known as the Great Purge of 1936-1938. The totalitarian campaign led by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin targeted anyone accused of plotting against the state. Many ordinary citizens were exiled, imprisoned or executed.At least 700,000 are estimated to have been executed throughout the USSR including some 15,000  in Soviet Georgia. “For this regime, human life didn’t have any value,” says Meri as she reconstructs the skeleton of a victim shot in the head. Most families never knew what happened to their loved ones. But now, six mass graves containing the remains of people executed during Stalin’s Reign of Terror have been discovered in western Georgia. The …

why Putin has reinstated Stalin’s notorious and much-feared anti-spy unit

why Putin has reinstated Stalin’s notorious and much-feared anti-spy unit

A man under arrest by Russian internal security forces was seen confessing to a “crime”, in a video posted on January 2. He had been apprehended after allegedly posting a video on social media that purportedly showed air defences near the Russian city of Belgorod. This city, on the border with Ukraine, was the target of Ukrainian missile attacks on the same day. What was notable, though, about this confessional was that the man was flanked by two internal security officers who had the word Smersh emblazoned on the backs of their jackets. Many people in the west remember Smersh from Ian Fleming’s early James Bond novels (and early films). It was the shadowy Soviet spy agency bent on eliminating the fictional British agent. But there was nothing fictitious about Smersh itself. It was a real counterintelligence agency set up in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union during the second world war. Indeed, the name Smersh (a blend of Russian words Smert’ Shpionam which translates into English as “death to spies”), was supposedly coined by Stalin himself. …

From sulphur baths to Stalin’s home: five great trips in Georgia | Georgia holidays

Kazbegi mountains Some Helly Hansen-clad travellers consider the Kazbegi area, next to the Russian border, one of Georgia’s more mainstream mountain trips. Don’t be put off: Stepantsminda, the main village of Kazbegi, may be frequented by tourists but it doesn’t feel overrun, and neither do its surrounding villages. Other mountainous areas, such as Svaneti, require longer slogs. Illustration: Guardian Design The climb from the town to the hilltop Gergeti Trinity church is the classic short Kazbegi hike, rewarded with views over the Caucasus mountains. There are great trekking trails all around, but it’s also fun to drive the winding road north of Kazbegi, stopping for jaw-dropping views of the Darial Gorge. There’s no train line to Kazbegi, but the Georgian Military Road from Tbilisi offers one of Europe’s great road trips, passing vast, colourful Soviet-era mosaics and spectacular valleys, with the occasional herd of sheep blocking traffic. Kazbegi is worth visiting, even if you only have one spare day. Climbing to the hilltop Gergeti Trinity church in the Kazbegi mountains. Photograph: Ryhor Bruyeu/Alamy Taxi vans …

After 70 years, Stalin’s shadow still looms over Russia and Ukraine – but Putin is a tyrant in his own right

After 70 years, Stalin’s shadow still looms over Russia and Ukraine – but Putin is a tyrant in his own right

Joseph Stalin took his last breath 70 years ago. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage on March 5 1953, aged 74, at his dacha – or country house – west of the Kremlin in a leafy pocket of Moscow’s urban sprawl. Now, more than 30 years after the end of the cold war Stalin played such a large part in starting, Moscow is back in the grip of an authoritarian leader in the form of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president may head a “democratic government” in name but, in reality, it is much closer to a dictatorship. Questions of historical continuity inevitably arise over the extent to which the Stalin era continues to inspire Russia’s rulers and its people, and whether Stalin bears any responsibility for Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine. Is there a deeper logic at play here? Is it possible to rule Russia in its current form, with its enormous size, terrible history and imperial mindset, as anything other than a murderous dictatorship? Every dictatorship stems from the same source: state power, largely …

the Welsh journalist who uncovered Stalin’s genocide

the Welsh journalist who uncovered Stalin’s genocide

Ninety years ago, a young Welsh investigative journalist uncovered the Soviet Union’s genocide in Ukraine, Stalin’s attempt to stamp down on rising nationalism in its neighbouring country. The Holomodor, as it became known, was responsible for the deaths of some 4 million Ukrainians through deliberate starvation. Gareth Jones’ eyewitness reports, gathered at significant risk, were initially disbelieved and dismissed at a time when many in the west were supportive of Stalin as a potential ally against the growing Nazi threat in the early 1930s. It was only later, after the journalist was murdered in murky circumstances, that the full scale of what had taken place was recognised. Jones, a linguist and political advisor before he turned to journalism, has become the subject of a feature film, several documentaries and numerous biographies. Yet his achievements, which hold lessons for today’s reporters, are still not well known. Gareth Jones when he was a student at Cambridge University. The Gareth Vaughan Jones Estate, Author provided (no reuse) Jones was born in Barry, south Wales, in 1905. His mother …

the Welsh journalist who helped uncover Stalin’s genocide

the Welsh journalist who helped uncover Stalin’s genocide

Ninety years ago, a young Welsh investigative journalist reported on the Soviet Union’s genocide in Ukraine, Stalin’s attempt to stamp down on rising nationalism. The Holomodor, as it became known, was responsible for the deaths of some 4 million Ukrainians through deliberate starvation. Gareth Jones’ eyewitness reports, gathered at significant risk, were initially disbelieved and dismissed at a time when many in the west were supportive of Stalin as a potential ally against the growing Nazi threat in the early 1930s. It was only later, after the journalist was murdered in murky circumstances, that the full scale of what had taken place was recognised. Jones, a linguist and political advisor before he turned to journalism, has become the subject of a feature film, several documentaries and numerous biographies. Yet his achievements, which hold lessons for today’s reporters, are still not well known. Gareth Jones when he was a student at Cambridge University. The Gareth Vaughan Jones Estate, Author provided (no reuse) Jones was born in Barry, south Wales, in 1905. His mother had worked in …