Today In Moscow

Today In Moscow

Ceremony marking the 66th anniversary of Stalin’s death in Red Square, Moscow, on March 5, 2019. Woman bows to the bust of Stalin. Photo from:

Bow Your Heads!

Today is not a date to forget – not if one lived in the USSR.

On Tuesday, March 5, on the 66th anniversary of the death of the “father of all nations” Joseph Stalin, members of the Communist Party laid wreaths and red carnations to his monuments, statues, busts, and memorials.  

Ceremony marking the 66th anniversary of Stalin’s death in Red Square, Moscow, on March 5, 2019. Photo from:

Thousands of red carnations but among them some were intentionally broken and hurled with hatred and anger. One man cried out: “Burn in hell, executioner of people, murderer of women and children.” Police promptly detained the daredevils for organizing mass actions of citizens in public places.  

Did You Cry?

But consider the progress. 66 years ago people were exiled for incorrect mourning. It was equated to anti-Soviet propaganda. Charges included throwing cucumbers into the portrait of the leader, speaking loudly in the funeral line, reading during the mourning assembly, not crying.  No wonder my parents made sure to at least look gloomy in public… From that day on – yes, even now… if you are of a certain age – people ask each other “Did you cry when Stalin died?”

Soviet newspapers were full of reports of people dying at hearing the tragic news,  or refusing food and drink. Students of a Moscow school, upon hearing rumors that American agents killed Stalin, came to the US embassy and stood silently in front of it for a long time to express their contempt for the murderers. 

Depending on whom you talk to, March 5 is a day of mourning for Stalin or for his victims, of reverence for his achievements or shame for worshiping a monster, of pride that he lived or joy that that his demise spared millions on his to-do list. He didn’t deserve death from old age but a country with no open court had to take the best it could get.

I look at the photographs: the faces, the clothes, the postures are uncannily unchanged since I remember them. We used to call them Party Faces.

Leaders of the Moscow Putsch; August, 1991. From left: Alexander Tizyakov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Boris Pugo, Gennady Yanayev, and Oleg Baklanov. Photo credit: © Vladimir Rodionov / Sputnik.

The man who spoke about Stalin’s greatness at today’s commemoration was 5 when “the gardener of human happiness” died. As someone said, “Stalin did not become a thing of the past, he dissolved into the future.”

Several hundred people came to Stalin’s grave today. How many will come to Putin’s funeral?


No Comments

Post A Comment