Moscow » Posters of Josef Stalin may be put up in Moscow for the first time in decades as part of the May 9 observance of Victory Day -- the annual celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
This year, the 65th anniversary of Germany's defeat, a contingent of U.S. troops is expected to march on Red Square, a striking sign of vaunted "reset" of American-Russian relations. But Moscow authorities may be preparing a less-welcome kind of reset with the posters, an honor denied since the Soviet dictator's crimes were publicly exposed more than 50 years ago.
The poster proposal for Victory Day, Russia's most emotionally charged secular holiday, has raised a storm of controversy in state-controlled media and once again opened the never-healed wound of Russia's Soviet past.
The debate comes amid rising concern that Stalin is being quietly rehabilitated as memories of his reign of terror fade. Last year, old Soviet national anthem lyrics praising Stalin were restored to a rotunda in a Moscow subway station.
The WWII victory came at appalling cost to the Soviet Union -- at least 27 million of its citizens are estimated to have died. The toll feeds Russia's self-image as a nation of exceptional valor and any criticism of its wartime role sets off resentment.
The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the issue. Britain has announced it will send a military contingent but the Foreign Office declined to discuss the posters.