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Stalin statue to return to hometown museum
File photo of pigeons standing on a statue of late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the storage of a foundry in Tirana. AFP PHOTO / GENT SHKULLAKU.
TBILISI (AFP).- Georgia on Tuesday said a statue of Joseph Stalin would be put up outside the museum commemorating the Soviet dictator in his hometown of Gori, three years after it was torn down from its plinth in the town centre.

A spokeswoman for Georgia's culture ministry said that Gori town council had taken the decision to resurrect the controversial bronze statue, which was dismantled under cover of darkness in 2010.

"Gori town council has made the decision to put up the statue again-- we gave them the recommendation to put it up in front of the museum and not back in the centre," the spokeswoman Keti Ebanoidze told AFP.

The statue had stood in the central square of Gori since 1952 but was taken down on the orders of pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili despite objections from many local residents who remain fiercely proud of Stalin.

Saakashvili had backed plans to move the statue to the more secluded yard of the museum, which is a major tourist attraction near the town centre.

Local media reported that the statue, which is six metres (20 feet) tall, could be put up in December on the former leader's birthday.

The museum in Gori, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Tbilisi, houses the hovel Stalin was born in and offers a largely uncritical portrait of the leader.

Born Joseph Dzhugashvili in Gori in 1878, Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist from the late 1920s to his death in 1953.

He is a deeply controversial figure in the former Soviet Union, accused of causing the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens in his brutal Gulag prison camps and through the forced collectivisation of agriculture.

Stalin's supporters however praise his role in the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

The huge statue of Stalin, in an overcoat staring out over the Caucasus Mountains beyond, was one of the few monuments to the dictator still standing anywhere in the world.




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