Stalin – he gave woman equal rights in Russia! Admittedly, that also meant the right to be massacred horribly as a portion of the 20 million people he purged. But it would seem the Russian government would have you focus on the former rather than the latter. To that end, they’re holding discussions with PR firms, looking to rebrand Stalin as kind of a good guy, according to EUobserver.
In addition to taking pitches on how to generally improve the image of Russia abroad (clue: this is not the right way to go about it), Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reportedly met with PR firms in Brussels to hear ideas for a campaign to rehabilitate Stalin. RIA Novosti denies the reports, but acknowledges working with an agency mentioned in the story, RJI Companies:
RIA Novosti has not launched any new project on Russia’s image; the agency conducts its current activities with the aim of holding a variety of news and expert events in foreign countries and the former Soviet Union, as well as in Russia.
But according to EUobserver, Moscow-based newspapers such as Novaya Gazeta claim that the campaign is already underway in Russia.[more]
One PR executive remarked “”Expect to see more articles in European newspapers saying that Stalin had his good points as well.” According to the EUobserver report:
…part of the PR effort would be to cast a positive light on the actions of the Soviet Union before and after World War II in order to justify the idea that modern Russia should also impose its influence on neighbouring countries for the good of the world.
A senior executive at the PR firm in question recalled one particular exchange with the RJI Companies envoy: “I asked him ‘Do you want us to say that Stalin was not such a bad guy?’ And he said ‘Well, I know it will be difficult.’ I said ‘So, you want history to be rewritten?’ And he said ‘Yes, in a way’.”
To be fair, we all know humanizing facts about other murderous dictators (Mao loved parades, Hitler was a vegetarian who was kind to dogs) but none of those points have ever really effectively overshadowed their killing millions of their own people.
However, in an effort to keep up with the trends, I will say that Stalin’s moustache always seemed to be very well coiffed. I’m just not sure that makes up for his other, more dubious aspects.