TBILISI, DFWatch–A statue of Joseph Stalin may be put back up in his hometown Gori, where positive sentiments towards the late Soviet ruler are still high.
The city council is to discuss the issue on Friday, October 2. If the council approves the decision, the statue will be erected in the small park in central Gori, near the Stalin museum. The overall cost of the project is up to 2 million laris, or about USD 840,000.
During a preliminary debate, only two of the nine council members opposed restoring the statute; the representatives of the National Movement and the Free Democrats.
However, it is still unclear whether the statue will have status as a monument or be considered an exhibition showpiece.
The debate has been aggravated by the fact that the Freedom Charter, adopted in the wake of 2008 Georgian-Russian War, clearly prohibits and stipulates rooting out of “Soviet and Nazi symbols… statues and monuments.”
Nevertheless, the proponents of the statue argue that it has importance as a historical monument.
In their public speeches, city council members state that the statue, if restored, will be a part of the Stalin museum’s exhibition and in no way means rehabilitating the Soviet totalitarian past, nor Joseph Stalin as a person.
The Stalin statue was dismantled in June 2010 and stored face-down on the outskirts of Gori. Fearing protest by locals, authorities took it down at night, without prior public debate and notification. Even though the number of people who support the Soviet system is a negligible in Georgia, Stalin himself remains popular in his birthplace Gori, a small city in central Georgia.
In December 2012, Gori municipality, which was then staffed by National Movement members, decided to restore the statue and released money for doing this in the 2013 municipal budget.