Stalin statue removed in Georgian home town

Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:36pm GMT
 

By Margarita Antidze

GORI, Georgia (Reuters) - Authorities removed a towering statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin from the central square of his native city in the dead of the night on Friday, carting away the monument to Georgia's most famous native.

The 6-metre-high bronze statue will be replaced by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia and of Stalin's repression, officials said -- a rebuke to Moscow.

In an unannounced operation that began after midnight and was over before dawn, municipal workers and police took the statue down from its stone pedestal in the small city 80 km (50 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi.

The statue's removal drew a mixed reactions in Gori, where it was erected a year before Stalin's death in 1953.

"How could they remove it? ... Stalin was a great individual and the most famous Georgian in the world," Irina, who gave only her first name, told Georgian public television.

"Stalin's monument was a symbol of our town," she said.

Outward signs of Stalin's pervasive personality cult were swept away after his death across Georgia and the rest of the Soviet Union, but he is revered by many in Gori.

Another resident, who identified herself as Maya, called it "the right decision. It's more logical to have a memorial to victims of war than a huge Stalin monument."   Continued...

<p>The statue of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is seen after it was dismantled at his hometown of Gori, some 80 km (50 miles) west of Tbilisi, June 25, 2010. Authorities removed a towering statue of Stalin from the central square of his hometown in the dead of the night on Friday, carting away the monument to Georgia's most famous native. The 6-meter-high bronze statue will be moved to the courtyard of a museum dedicated to Stalin in his native Gori and replaced on the main square by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia, a local official said. REUTERS/Nino Chibchiuri</p>
 
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