|Credit: Alexey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images|
The previously taboo display comes as the rebels revive Soviet customs to cement their Moscow-backed rule – while glossing over Stalin’s atrocities.
The portraits went down well with one young woman walking past. “I think the portraits of Stalin are a good thing. It’s our history and a lot of people have forgotten he even existed,” said Yekaterina, a 22-year-old student.
The horrors of Stalin’s repressions and the deaths of up to five million Ukrainians in the 1930s due to famine caused by forced collectivisation go unmentioned.
The Donetsk rebel leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, said how he regretted the break-up of the Soviet Union.Side note: Donetsk was also once named Stalino, so I wonder how long until that gets revived as well.
“The Soviet Union was a great country and it was a huge mistake that it was destroyed by the CIA and other secret services,” said the 39-year-old former field commander who prefers to dress in camouflage gear. “Europe and other countries were scared stiff of us.”
Stalin portraits have become de rigueur in the offices of rebel officials in eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict has killed more than 8,000 people.
The Donetsk rebels’ deputy defence minister, Eduard Basurin, wears a badge with Stalin’s profile on his uniform.