Stalin back in vogue in Putin endorsed textbook
Josef Stalin may have been cruel, but he was first and foremost a great leader.
That rewriting of the history of the ruthless Soviet dictator who killed millions of real and imagined enemies comes from a new manual for Russia's high-school teachers endorsed by President Vladimir Putin. The book exemplifies Russia's growing nostalgia for its bygone superpower days -- a sentiment Putin stokes at every turn in his quest for political hegemony.
Russia feels that it was ``humiliated during the 1990s, when it lost its international weight,'' said Fyodor Lukyanov, who edits a quarterly journal for the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow. ``Our leaders now believe it is necessary to consolidate the nation.''
Putin, 55, may achieve that goal on Dec. 2, when parliamentary elections will likely make his United Russia party almost as powerful as the Communists were in the USSR. Much of his overwhelming popularity stems from his ability to reinvigorate Russia's patriotic pride. He has gained support by confronting the West with Cold War zeal and has paid little price for clamping down on dissent with similar intensity.
The new teachers' manual -- ``A Modern History of Russia 1945-2006,'' -- refers to the purges without enumerating the victims, specifically mentioning only 2,000 killed in the late 1940s.
While it calls Stalin's rule ``cruel'' and says he engaged in ``political repression,'' it also declares him the USSR's ``most successful leader'' because his tactics transformed the country into an industrialized counterweight to America's military and economic might.
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