MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – Soviet leader Josef Stalin may be credited with killing millions of his own people, but current Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was no worse than the “cunning” Oliver Cromwell, who ousted the 17th-century British monarchy.
“What’s the real difference between Cromwell and Stalin? None whatsoever,” Putin said at a press conference Thursday.
Putin said Stalin deserves statues in his honor as much as the late British lord protector, a “cunning fellow” who “played a very ambiguous role in Britain’s history.”
But unlike Cromwell, Stalin has a lack of state-endorsed monuments in his honor, Putin said.
Putin made the comments in response to a question about a Stalin monument possibly being erected in Moscow.
Authorities in the Russian capital recently announced plans to commemorate all Soviet leaders who lived in the city.
Putin said he could not influence the decisions of Moscow’s City Hall. But he cautioned, “We must treat all periods of our history with care.”
“It’s better not to stir things up … with premature actions,” he added.
Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953, is credited with implementing political purges that resulted in the deaths of several million people and the servitude of just as many in gulag prison camps.
Cromwell led a Protestant army to defeat the monarchy in the British Civil War, becoming the ruler of England from 1653 until his death five years later.
Cromwell endorsed the execution of King Charles II, though he never conducted any mass purges.