Even After a War With Russia, Many Georgians Revere Stalin





With his signature mustache, medal-encrusted Soviet marshal’s uniform and determination to be addressed as “Comrade,” the Stalin impersonator Jamil Ziyadaliev should perhaps be out of work in Georgia, a country still reeling from a war with Russia.

But Mr. Ziyadaliev, 64, an avuncular father of two who dresses as Stalin even on days off, insists that business has seldom been better. He is a frequent hired guest at weddings, where he dances to Soviet Katyusha music from World War II.

The benefits of looking eerily like the former dictator, he boasts, include free meals, free car repairs — and free passage through Russian checkpoints.

“Looking like Stalin is like having a visa in Georgia,” said Mr. Ziyadaliev, a Muslim originally from Azerbaijan, who drove a taxi, peddled vegetables and worked as an accountant before deciding on a career as a modern incarnation of the brutal, diabolically brilliant Soviet tyrant.


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