Stalin statue removed in Georgian home town
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...