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Controversy Erupts Over Stalin Statue In Georgian City

Gori's Stalin monument

Gori's Stalin monument

GORI, Georgia -- Controversy has erupted over a campaign in the Georgian city of Gori to remove Josef Stalin's monument from the center of the town of his birth, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service reports.

Activists seeking the removal of the monument have held several rallies in recent days. They have painted the statue's pedestal red and marked it with protest slogans.

The activists want to move the statue to Gori's Stalin museum, where it would be less visible.

But several groups have raised objections to the initiative. The most vocal opposition comes from relatively marginal groups like the Communist Party and the Stalin Society.

The groups are still devoted to the legacy of the Soviet leader, despite the heavy damage Gori and other parts of the country suffered in the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008.

In cities and towns across Georgia, most Soviet leaders' statues were torn down in the late 1980's to early 1990's, when the national-liberation movement was in its heyday.

But in Gori's central square, Stalin's statue has survived to this day, perhaps proving the ambiguous attitude the town's residents have retained toward their infamous son.