The following article is from the bourgeois press service, AFP. See also Long Live the Universal Contributions of Comrade Joseph Stalin. For more photos, see the website of the Communist Party of Ukraine:
ZAPORIZHIA, Ukraine — Ukrainian communists on Wednesday unveiled a controversial monument to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, despite angry criticism from nationalists.
About 1,000 supporters of the Communist Party, including many elderly World War II veterans bedecked with medals, cheered as the monument was dedicated in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporozhia.
The metal statue was placed outside the local headquarters of the Communist Party in Zaporozhia, a Russian-speaking city about 500 kilometres (300 miles) southeast of Kiev.
Standing more than two metres (seven feet) tall and depicting Stalin holding a pipe, it was commissioned by local communists and dedicated ahead of this weekend’s 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Stalin is a deeply controversial figure who is accused of causing the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens in his brutal Gulag prison camps and through the forced collectivization of agriculture.
Nationalists in Ukraine — which won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 — revile Stalin as the instigator of a 1930s famine which killed millions of Ukrainians.
But Stalin’s supporters praise his role in the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
“It was the USSR under Stalin’s leadership that liberated Europe,” Olexander Zubchevsky, the second secretary of the Zaporozhia regional branch of the Communist Party, told AFP ahead of the dedication ceremony.
The Gazeta po-Kievsky newspaper reported that the Stalin statue had been sculpted in secret and that communists would keep a round-the-clock guard around the monument to prevent it from being defaced.
Svoboda (Freedom), a Ukrainian nationalist group, had sought to hold a protest against the dedication of the monument, calling Stalin “the executioner of the Ukrainian people.”
But Svoboda was denied permission by Zaporozhia authorities to hold its protest, the Interfax news agency reported.
Yaunkovych has downplayed the importance of the Stalin statue, saying it was a communist initiative not backed by the government.
“Since this territory belongs to the communists, the consent of the city council was not needed,” Yanukovych said last week in comments carried by the presidential press service.
Yanukovych said residents of Zaporozhia should vote in a referendum on whether their city should be home to the statue.