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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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