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Stalingrad Victory Commemorated

Published: February 4, 2013 (Issue # 1744)



  • The Battle of Stalingrad, depicted on this commemorative 2-ruble coin from 2000, cost around 1.25 million lives and is regarded by many historians as the turning point of World War II.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW — Russia on Saturday celebrated the 70th anniversary of the decisive Soviet victory over the Nazis in the Battle of Stalingrad amid talk of the revival of Stalinism, the temporary renaming of Volgograd to Stalingrad and the launch of buses bearing Stalin's image.

In Volgograd on Saturday, President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the eternal flame dedicated to the watershed battle, which lasted some 200 days and left 1.25 million dead. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and regional Governor Sergei Bozhenov.

Putin, who has reportedly been suffering from back problems, has made only three trips around the country since early October, including the one to Volgograd on Saturday.

He used the celebration to reiterate his stance that patriotism is important for maintaining a unified Russia. Putin has been actively promoted patriotism since his return to power last May.

At a meeting with veterans Saturday in Volgograd, temporarily renamed Stalingrad to reflect its Soviet namesake for the celebration, Putin said that "understanding the importance" of the Battle of Stalingrad was "essential" for "preserving our national identity," "reinforcing" Russia and "breeding patriotism."

"Patriotism, as we know it, is love for the motherland," Putin said, according to a transcript on the Kremlin website. "No country can exist without it. It would simply melt like a sugar cube in tea."

Ahead of Putin's visit, local deputies Thursday decided that the city would officially be called by its 1925-1961 name, Stalingrad, on six holidays dedicated to World War II.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin praised the renaming Friday in a post on Twitter.

"I have never disguised my unequivocally positive attitude toward it [the renaming], including from the economic and investment point of view," he wrote.

The renaming prompted some observers to speculate about the revival of Stalinism in Russia, although Putin has never unambiguously praised Stalin.

On Friday, the British daily The Times ran an opinion piece on the renaming, saying that under Putin school textbooks have described Stalin as a "competent manager" whose actions were "entirely rational."

"The purges, the gulags, the famines are all downplayed in favor of 'Little Father,' the mighty leader who modernized the U.S.S.R. and led his country to victory against Nazi Germany," the commentary states.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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