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Georgia: Debating the Fate of Stalin's Statue

The iconic statue of Joseph Stalin in the main square of Gori is reflected in a bullet-riddled window. (Photo: Temo Bardzimashvili)

Amid an ongoing exercise in national self-examination, Georgians are confronting the legacy of the country's most famous, and notorious, native son -- Joseph Stalin. A significant number of Georgians now blame Stalin's legacy for the country's present-day woes. This trend, in turn, is fueling a debate over what to do with the most tangible symbol of that legacy -- the Stalin statue in the city of Gori.

Situated in his hometown's central square, the bronze Stalin statue has survived changes ranging from de-Stalinization in the 1950s to the collapse of the Soviet Union and, most recently, Russia's bombing of Gori in 2008. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

But now as Georgians struggle to move forward following the disastrous 2008 conflict, and the subsequent economic downturn, some commentators and experts now feel that it's finally time to consign the dictator's statue, and everything it stands for, to the ash heap of history. The question for these intellectuals is how best to do it.

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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi. Temo Bardzimashvili is a freelance photojournalist also based in Tbilisi.

Georgia: Debating the Fate of Stalin's Statue

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