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TV series on Stalin divides Russian audience

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Josef Stalin is speaking to his son Yakov, who has just telephoned to say that he will soon head off to battle the Nazi invaders.

"I sometimes was not fair to you. Forgive me. I devoted little time to you," the Soviet dictator apologizes. "Son, go and fight. This is your duty." He then switches to Georgian, the language of his childhood, and adds with even greater feeling: "If you have to die, do it with dignity. And you must be confident that your father, Stalin, will do everything for our victory."

The poignant scene — for viewers who can stomach it — is part of a controversial 40-episode TV drama, "Stalin Live," now airing on a nationwide network here. The show's structural device is an elderly Stalin, in the last weeks of his life, recalling episodes in his younger days, most presenting him in a favorable light.

For Stalin admirers, of whom there are many in Russia, the series is an entertaining and educational look at the man who turned the Soviet Union into a superpower. To critics, it is a dangerous distortion of history that threatens to misinform a younger generation about a leader responsible for the deaths of millions of people, and reinforce a trend toward greater authoritarianism in politics.
Read entire article at LAT

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