In a way, it is fitting that a statue of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, architect of the Great Terror, disappeared in the middle of the night.
Local officials in Gori, the dictator’s birthplace, decided recently that the statue, one of the last such likenesses of Stalin still standing in the former Soviet sphere, should be replaced by a memorial to the victims of Soviet-era repression and to those who perished in the 2008 war with Russia. President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration has long supported such a move.
The actual removal of the 20-foot-tall statue was carried out under the cover of darkness during the early hours of June 25, a largely secret action completed before most media cameras could arrive at the scene. Government-released footage showed the monument crashing down headlong from its pedestal, with a large Sports Utility Vehicle tire serving as a pillow for Stalin’s bronze forehead.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.