May 8th, 2013
09:37 AM ET

Putin's nod to Stalinism

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Everything old is new again. And capitalist Russia is seemingly catching socialist Stalin fever all over again.

Sixty years after the death of the dictator who murdered millions, his reputation seems to be having a bit of a “rehabilitation.”

In a recent poll, 47 percent of Russians said Stalin was a "wise leader who brought the Soviet Union to might and prosperity.” And on Wednesday, May Day parades in Russia celebrated Stalin – and none other than President Putin invoked his legacy in a ceremony.

You see, Stalin was the first to be named a Soviet “Hero of Socialist Labor.”

Some 20,000 people were so honored after him. But then, like the USSR, the awards ended abruptly in 1991. But 22 years later, this May Day, Putin revived the tradition, bestowing honors now simply called “Hero of Labor.”

Mr. Putin said recently of his own regime "I don't see any elements of Stalinism here."

Well, we could point to one.

Post by:
Topics: Last Look

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    The one thing that Joseph Stalin should get credit for but doesn't in the West is the simple fact that he brought Adolf Hitler down. Without the Russian front during WW2, neither the defeat of Erwin Rommel in North Africa nor the D-Day Normandy invasion would have been successful. Then again, he did do some very bad things too, like the purges of the 1930's and the elimination of the Kulak class in the countryside. Let's give credit where credit is due!

    May 8, 2013 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • Jack

      While Stalin did help us to defeat Hitler, he was serving his own interests. And, he would not have succeeded without US financial and military aid. Let's not forget that Stalin and Hitler were allies at the start of WWII and BOTH invaded Poland in September 1939. They both worked together to destroy Poland. Stalin annexed western Poland in 1940, shipped hundreds of thousands of civilians to Siberia, and executed over 20,000 Polish officers in 1940. Stalin also was responsible for killing millions of people in his own country. He was no better than Hitler. They both deserve to rot in hell for what they did.

      May 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
      • Alex279

        Obviously liberasts are outraged when seeing Stalin's picture printed on the side of Moscow city buses, but I am actually proud to see in there along with his "Enemy will be defeated. Victory will be ours!" words.

        Liberasts are trying to steal, undermine, and devalue the holly day of celebration in Russia, the Victory Day. They will not succeed. Victory will be ours!

        May 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Fug Xu

      Let's be real here, mother nature and Hitler's impatience did more to defeat Hitler than Russia did; Russia was just insult to self inflicted injury.

      May 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply
      • Spencer

        Lets be, and you need some serious history check my friend. Speaking like you know something doesn't make you smart, on the contrary it makes you look like an imbecile.

        May 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  2. what?

    how can one be so simple minded?

    May 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      I agree: they could do a better job putting that crap together! It is sad to see such disrespect for their own people. Are professional liars in great demand/ short supply these days: what is your problem CNN?

      May 9, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
  3. Ferhat Balkan

    Stalin is perhaps the worst dictator whoever lived. The only positive thing that ever happened during his murderous reign is the announcement of his death by Yuri Levitan in 1953.

    May 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • Travis

      Before you throw stones Ferhat, consider George H. W. Bush, LBJ, George W. Bush and Barack Obama with their obnoxious, bloody and useless wars all of which were completely uncalled for! By the way, you forgot to mention both Augusto Pinochet of Chile and the Shah of Iran, but Hitler most of all!

      May 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Reply
      • bob

        Spoken like someone who was not in Kuwait after Saddam invaded, or in Iraq has Saddam was killing Millions of his own. The only land the US hold from it wars are were American are buried, you know nothing. I've was in Desert Storm and OIF I saw for myself. Am I saying mistake were not made, NO. I am saying the Iraqi people and Kuwait people are better off.

        May 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Travis

        Hey bob, what about the uncalled for bombing of the Amriya air raid shelter in Baghdad on Feb. 13, 1991, killing more that 414 women, children and old people there by two American pilots in an F-117 bomber? Don't spew that right-wing bla-bla-bla about it being some kind of "command posr" either although most people are dumb enough to fall for it!

        May 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • Travis

        Excuse me bob for the misprint above. I meant to print "post", not "posr".

        May 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Tyler

        I'm sorry but i think you are becoming so hostile you completely missed his point there will always be collateral damage in ANY war you simply can't name one that it hasn't occurred in but regardless he says they are now better off i an extent are they better off without the oppresive government YES are they currently better off than in Fallujah they say there was use of depleted uranium and that anyone near it is in danger due to its radioactive nature but as long as they avoid playing in old metal scarp heaps from the war they should be fine. So in the long run they are better off now than before thank you send my check in the mail yours truly.

        May 10, 2013 at 12:06 am |
      • wjmccartan

        Wrong, Tyler. The Iraqi people are far worse off today than at any time prior to the joint Anglo-American invasion in 2003! By the way, did you see the news on Feb. 13, 1991 and watch as that one man who had his whole family in the Amriya air raid shelter in Baghdad mourn his horrific loss? Well I did and it made me sick to my stomach! So we Americans are not so much better than the Germans, Russians, Turks or J apanese. We just think we are!

        May 10, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  4. Andrey

    I love CNN's evil hate-mongering spirit!
    Sure the timing of that crap could not be any better! Of course it is not about brainwashing Americans: it is not required, even Dr. Goebbels could not improve over what CNN has already achieved. It is all about delivering the message to Obama in the sight of current exchange with Russians over Syria. And the message is: do not forget who holds your reputation in their hand! Obey or be destroyed! Nice democracy you have here people! My congratulations!

    BTW according to CNN statistics Putin sure must represent the opinion of the vast majority of Russian people: so he is not a dictator but democratically elected president. Is he CNN: are you able to keep your lies straight, not clashing each other? What you miss CNN is a few smart people on you staff, or some respect for American people: that is probably too much to ask!

    May 9, 2013 at 12:09 am | Reply
    • YoungNiceGuy

      Coming from the country with state controlled media, I find your comments to be hypocrtical.

      Stalin was a murderous thug, he murdered Millions of his own people and murdered even more than Hitler.

      May 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
      • Andrey

        Right! You do not have state controlled media: you have media controlled state! So keep dancing happy fool: the music will never stop!

        May 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • YoungNiceGuy

      On the Flip side, he jump started Russian Industrialization.

      May 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    When Stalin died in March 1953, the USSR was militarily strong, but economically fragile. Today Russia is economically strong, but militarily weak, compared to the US. Putin's calculus makes sense, with a strong military, Russia might be able to regain its former glory.

    May 9, 2013 at 5:58 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      By the way, how would the Russians see Nikita Khrushchev today? He was the one who set up an inquiry to expose the abuses that had sent innocent millions to the Gulag.

      May 9, 2013 at 6:01 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      What do you mean "economically fragile"? Where is this information coming from? Is it based on USSR's Industrial growth rate at the time? Did they have a recession or a crisis at the time? Could you please expand on it a bit?
      As for Khrushchev: he was a Communist, he ascended to very high position in Politburo all during Stalin's reign, While in Politburo he served as Stalin's clown but kept a grudge against his evil Master. He believed himself a great leader, he has personally taken Crimea away from Russia and gave it to his native Ukraine (where it remains). He bashed UN tribune with his shoe and promised to show Americans "Kuskina mat'". He was responsible for organizing Cuban Crisis mostly because he did not have a proper plan and thought through contingencies. At the end he turned out to be such a poor leader that he was displaced by somebody as lame as Brezhnev! So how about that answer?

      May 9, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
  6. ppeter

    Russia could never replace the USSR. What the Russians and Putin miss is having their neighbors fear them, they are used to being bullies but those days are gone. As long as there is NATO Russia will always be a junior and regional power at best.

    May 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      "...As long as there is NATO..." you are right man: there is only one bully this days! The world is not big enough these days!

      May 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  7. Eugene

    First off, what a crap article... Did some intern at CNN write this?

    Am I missing something? Why is it wrong to admit that Stalin may have done some things right? I am sure the same 47% of the people will tell you that they firmly believe that he also is responsible for millions of innocent lives. Sure, it wasn't really Stalin's accomplishments - it was the work of the Soviet People. Be it the victory in WW2, rebuilding of the Soviet Union after, or transforming it into a Super Power. But Stalin's strong leadership (and yes, tyrannical) and patriotic message that leadership projected (yes, you can call it propaganda, but USSR didn't have CNN and Fox News, so someone had to do it) certainly helped to motivate people and give them scene of working towards, and being a part of something bigger then themselves. Without that - who knows. Was that good or bad? That's more of a philosophical question, I guess. And really depends on your position.

    And "May Day" parade? Its a Victory Day parade. Why not also say that Russians were marching back to USSR, since USSR flags, and old USSR insignia was on display too? Or may be it was a day to celebrate the victory of USSR, the ancestor of current Russian Federation over the Nazi Germany, and it makes perfect sense to remember your history, and honor those who contributed to the victory.

    And when Putin comments on his regime not having any signs of Stalinism, he is most certainly referring to the repressiveness of the regime - not to the fact that they have similar medals and awards. Its like saying that Putin is same as Stalin because they both have an office in Kremlin. Or saying that Obama is like Stalin because they are both leaders of to major nations. Now, it would have been a much better, and more interesting article if it did compare Mr. Putin's abuses of power to those of Joe Stalin. That would be pointing something out to him. But, I guess, that would mean that someone would actually do some work and write an actual article with actual facts - why would a news outlet want to do that when you can just post a picture of Joe Stalin and note that awards are similar sounding.

    May 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Reply
    • Spencer

      Brilliantly said.

      May 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  8. Alex279

    For those who brought the topic about Stalin: make a thoughtful experiment: replace Stalin with a democrat like Gorbachev or Yeltsyn, while keeping all the other conditions be the same starting with the country lying in ruins after Civil War, then proceed with industrialization, etc... then comes the biggest war.

    Then ask yourself:

    1. How many people would die if it were a democrat like Gorbachev or Yeltsyn?

    2. What YOU would do differently than Stalin?

    May 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  9. rightospeak

    My comments were politically incorrect and were removed . Talk about Stalinist's methods. The Thought Police must be at work. Shame on CNN !

    May 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  10. Crystal

    Stalin was not a great man. He even turned on his own party, holding show trials and executing them summarily.

    May 9, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  11. Pravoslavni

    You have to remember that Stalin was the leader during the Great Patriotic War which cost over 27 million Soviet citizens their lives. I am not a Stalin worshiper but had a lesser man been in charge of the Soviet Union and the resource rich Soviet Union fell to Hitler all of you would be speaking German right now and your great grandfathers would have either been worked to death in slave labor camps or been executed. Was Stalin vicious...yes, but so have many great leaders throughout history. I have no great love for Stalin. My patron saint was a Belarusian priest who was martyred by the NKVD during Stalin's reign, but Stalin was the man in charge when the Soviet Union defeated Hitler's master race and all though Soviet citizens would have to endure over four more decades of communism at least they were alive and not being used in Hitler's slave labor camps and factories being experimented on to see how to get the most production out of a man on the least amount of food and water. Of course it was the fighting spirit and great sacrifices of Soviet citizens that won the war, but Stalin must be given credit because had the Soviet Union split apart at this time there would have been nothing to stop Hitler's war machine.

    May 10, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      Good posting, Pravoslavni. Thank you.

      May 10, 2013 at 7:45 am | Reply
  12. fineday

    USA is in a teenage phase, once it grows into adulthood Russia will talk to them as equalls

    May 10, 2013 at 2:04 am | Reply
  13. syopbuster

    Does CNN can go any lower than this? No wonder viewers around the globe are abandoning it and popularity of RT, PresTV is skyrocketing.

    May 10, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply
  14. Andrey

    Well with Putin's position proving right on every turn, could it be that he is correct again: that there are no elements of Stalinism "in his own regime". CNN works hard to make Dr. Goebbels proud. But it should remember that he was a looser who ended up dead with his whole family: so his ideas indeed can be applied successfully but still have certain limits!

    May 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  15. Jocho Johnson

    Remember all you iews if not for Stalin there would have been millions more

    May 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  16. Tony

    The article was written by Mr. Zakaria who is well known for his Plagiarism. I would not take anything coming from this guy seriously. He should be fired from CNN. This guy is completely incompetent. What a joke.

    May 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  17. Rising China

    On the day that Stalin died, the Soviet Union had military power, prestige, and commanded fear and respect abroad. It was a giant in every field of human endeavor. America was frightened. Where is Russia now?

    Let's be clear: Stalin made the Soviet Union strong, so America hates Stalin. Similarly, the Communist Party of China is making China strong today, and America hates the Chinese Communist Party. But guess what? America's opinion does not matter. The worst mistake the Russians made was to try to be like America and its decadent political system. After the debacle of the 1990s, Russia now has much catching up to do. Thankfully, China did not make the same mistake to politically reform to be more like America. The Chinese State is as strong as ever. The 21st Century will be the century of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

    May 13, 2013 at 1:21 am | Reply
    • Pravoslavni

      China's economy is dependent upon the West (namely the United States) buying products that could be just as easily made somewhere else, Russia is not. Instead Europe is more and more dependent on Russia for oil and natural gas. China has become the giant factory for American corporations, it is communist in name only. The Chinese Communist Party of today is more like the pigs in Orwell's animal farm who eventually learn to walk on two legs and become every bit as capitalist as the farmer they overthrew. Is China an orderly society, a controlled society, a police state? Yes, but its not communist or even is capitalist through and through. That's not to say Russia is not also capitalist but it is charting its own course politically and economically free of the Western powers.

      May 13, 2013 at 2:26 am | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.