From Wed Dec 22 07:15:10 2004
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 16:12:29 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] Putin Brings Back the Name Stalingrad
Article: 199886
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Kremlin brings back ‘Stalingrad’

People's Daily Online, 21 December 2004

A reference to Soviet leader Josef Stalin is to appear on a Russian monument for the first time in more than 40 years, on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

Putin ordered the word “Stalingrad” engraved on a memorial complex by the Kremlin wall, replacing Volgograd, the current name of the city where one of the bloodiest battles of World War II was fought.

Less than two years ago Putin said reviving the name of Stalingrad “would do us no good.” But his latest order, posted on the presidential web site on Friday, said restoring Stalin's name on the monument was to “pay tribute to the heroism of the defenders of Stalingrad and to preserve the history of the Russian state.”

In 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev publicly accused Stalin, who died in 1953, of killing millions of innocent people in political purges and ordered his name removed from most official records.

Countless monuments referring to the Soviet leader of nearly three decades were pulled down.

Stalingrad, named after the him in the late 1930s, was one of hundreds of cities, towns, villages, factories and collective farms renamed under Khrushchev's orders.

Post-Soviet Russian leaders have resisted pressure from nationalists and war veterans to restore the name of Stalingrad to the city on the Volga, where more than 1 million Russians and Germans died in five months of fighting in 1942–43.

In December 2002, Putin said: “I am sure that by reviving the name of Stalingrad in this country we could trigger suspicion that we are returning to the times of Stalinism. This would do us no good.”

But his change of mind appears to have been triggered by plans to celebrate next year's 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.