TBILISI, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – A monument to Joseph Stalin officially unveiled in his home nation of Georgia on Sunday was daubed with red paint Monday night by unknown individuals, local police said.
The vandals also wrote “Down with Stalinism!” on a nearby wall.
The monument, part of a World War II memorial, was commissioned by the Stalinets social group and the Union of Veterans in the city of Telavi in the country's Kakheti region.
Telavi city assembly chairman Dima Bochoridze said earlier Sunday that a group of Georgian citizens had put up the monument on their own initiative and without the city’s permission, and it might soon be demolished in consequence.
However, Telavi majority deputy Gela Samkharauli told Georgian media that Sunday’s ceremony was “not an opening, but the return of the restored monument,” which he said had previously been located in the city for some time.
The most famous Stalin monument in Georgia, located in the central square of the dictator's hometown Gori, was torn down on government orders in 2010.
Local media recently reported that the monument would be re-erected on the grounds of the city’s Joseph Stalin Museum, which contains the house where the late Soviet leader was born, before December 21. Georgia’s Culture Ministry quickly denied the reports and said the authorities had not given permission for the monument’s reinstatement.
Two Stalin monuments have already been restored in the Kakheti region – one in the village of Zemo-Alvani in the Akhmeta district, and another in the village of Akura in the Telavi district.
Stalin evokes mixed memories in Russia and the former Soviet republics, particularly in his native Georgia. While being credited with leading Russia to victory in World War II and strengthening the country, he is also remembered for sending millions of people to death in concentration camps during the infamous purges of the 1930s, and carrying out particularly savage repression in the Caucasus, including Georgia.
Vandals in Georgia have desecrated three monuments to the Soviet leader with red paint already this year.
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