The Russian people remain an enigma. It’s difficult to fathom how a country where today at least 27 percent of the population is descended from Stalin’s victims could vote that same man Russia’s third-greatest historical figure.
Stalin was narrowly defeated by Russian medieval leader Alexander Nevsky and former prime minister Pyotr Stolypin in a television poll conducted by state-run Rossiya channel.
Others in the running included Lenin, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Today, Nevsky is remembered for having defeated a number of European invaders and is regarded as the key figure in Medieval Russia. Stolypin was recognized for his efforts at land reform, but he also had thousands of revolutionaries hanged for attempting to overthrow Nicholas II.
According to the Associated Press, “in presenting Stalin, the project’s Web site refers to the terror he imposed, and acknowledges that millions died of starvation and in the large network of hard labor camps he created to punish so-called ‘enemies of the people’ and scare the population into obedience. It goes on to say, however, that: ‘For all the defects of the Stalin modernization, it should be recognized that all the tasks set before the country were completed.'”
Of course all the tasks set before the country were completed: Stalin didn’t have to adhere to a budget, had a nearly limitless supplies of free, expendable labor and held the power of life and death in his grip.
By that rationale, all Hitler had to do was handle the “Final Solution” a little more efficiently and today he’d hold a place in the pantheon of Teutonic greats, alongside Bismarck, Martin Luther and Geothe, right?
While it’s unlikely any television poll is going to attract the “intelligentsia,” it is disconcerting that such Russian luminaries as Peter the Great, Solzhenitsyn or Tolstoy didn’t merit greater recognition than Stalin.