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Stakhanov Exhibition Opens In Ukraine

Aleksei Stakhanov in an official portrait with coal hammer and miner's lamp, 1935

Aleksei Stakhanov in an official portrait with coal hammer and miner's lamp, 1935

LUHANSK, Ukraine -- The Luhansk regional museum in eastern Ukraine has unveiled an exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Stakhanovite movement that lionized productive workers in the former Soviet Union, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The Stakhanovite movement was named after Soviet miner Aleksei Stakhanov, who in 1935 extracted a record 102 tons of coal in single shift, 14 times the required quota.

That feat was widely publicized in an attempt to increase worker productivity and demonstrate the superiority of the socialist economic system.

The exhibition comprises over 300 items, including postcards, posters, commemorative diplomas, miners' masks and lamps, and sledgehammers.

Much of the graphic material is in the style of socialist realism, the art form approved by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

A particularly rare exhibit, according to museum director Anatoly Kulishov, is a copy of Stakhanov's book "My World," published in 1935.

Much was said about Stakhanov's legendary exploits during the August 2 opening ceremony.

Luhansk regional council Deputy Chairman Yevhen Kharin believes the Stakhanovite movement has become a Luhansk trademark. He hopes that the new school year that begins on September 1 will start with a lesson about Stakhanov.

Luhansk historian Volodymyr Semystyaha believes that Soviet myths should not be revived. When we speak about Stakhanov, we must tell the whole truth, he says.

"Stakhanov is not from these parts. He came here to make money. The whole Stakhanov movement is Stalinist propaganda," Semystyaha says.

A Communist Party of the Soviet Union member, Stakhanov received the Hero of Socialist Labor award in 1970. He died seven years later in a psychiatric hospital.