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New York Times reporter Sarah Lyall offered a disturbing look at the World Cup host city of Volgograd, Russia, where some from the Communist era actually have found World War II-related memories of one of the world’s cruelest dictators, Joseph Stalin: “In Volgograd, Stalin Still Stalks the Sideline.”
It’s a two-page print edition spread filled with photos by Maxim Babenko from the local Stalin museum featuring busts of Stalin and other regalia, which is rather odd in itself -- the paper doesn’t often run photos of Nazi paraphernalia. And the most important part of a story on Stalin is nearly absent: Why he is such a controversial figure in the first place. Whitewashing the crimes of Soviet Communism is a shameful habit at the Times, whose notorious "Red Century" series did the same to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Joseph - Stalin - City - Name - History
Joseph Stalin himself vanished from the city in 1961, when his name was erased from Soviet history books and, with the stroke of a pen, Stalingrad became Volgograd. But he lives in its soul.
Yet Lyall never circles back around to ask why. Stalin’s arbitrary reign of terror -- the millions annihilated by persecution, starvation, or in the gulags -- merited only a single brief acknowledgment in paragraph 16 of 27. The only other negative word applied to Stalin is “dictator” in the story subhead, which Lyall likely didn’t write.
Stalingrad - Hotel - Portrait - Café - TV
Here he is in the Stalingrad Hotel, his portrait in the café, beside a TV on which Portugal is playing Morocco in the World Cup. Here he is in the gift shop, his face plastered on the souvenirs: Stalin flasks, Stalin playing cards, Stalin wall clocks, Stalin key chains, Stalin lighters, Stalin T-shirts, Stalin mugs and Stalin commemorative plates....
And here he is, too, in the office of Irina Rubaeva, 67, a historian...
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