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Stalin’s hometown in Georgia still loves him

Gori, Georgia resident Nazi Stepanishvili is a staunch defender of Stalin. (Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto/YJI)

Gori, GEORGIA – It has been more than 30 years since the Soviet Union’s collapse, but since the revolutionary changes, the ideology of those who miss Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin remains the same.

The town of Gori – approximately 50km far away from the capital of Tbilisi – is the place where Stalin was born.

During the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, Gori was at the center for the Russian armed forces. The city was severely bombed, but  still, nobody touched the Soviet dictator’s statues during the attack.

People gathered around a statue of Stalin in Gori. (Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto/YJI)

Seventy years after his death, the city still has Stalin’s name dedicated on streets and other places. These honors, along with statues of Stalin, make his presence ubiquitous and for many tourists, make Gori a place worth visiting.

A few years later, during the administration of President Mikheil Saakashvili, officials removed the a large statue of Stalin from in front of the Gori City Hall.

But the place still bears the name of “Stalin Square.” Many locals love Stalin and feel proud of it.

At a public gathering in Gori, a supporter holds a flag with Stalin’s likeness. People gather each year on Stalin’s birthday and death date. They want a large statue of the dictator restored to its former spot in front of Gori City Hall. (Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto/YJI)

Nazi Stepanishvili, a member of the United Communist Party of Georgia since 1968, remains a staunch advocate for Stalin’s legacy.

Some of Stepanishvili’s collection. (Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto/YJI)

Each year, alongside a small cohort of party members, she observes significant dates in Stalin’s life such as his birthday or the anniversary of his death.

Stepanishvili, who used to work as an economist, said the Soviet time was the best that ever existed worldwide.

“Stalin was a good man, a real man and he deserves people’s love, not the hate which new generation has,” Stepanishvili said in an interview. “He would never kill so many people if they were not so dangerous for our country.”

The room in Stepanishvili’s home dedicated to Stalin memorabilia. (Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto/YJI)

Stepanishvili has a significant collection of Stalin memorabilia and a dedicated room for it. Her collection ranges from Stalin’s portraits and photographs to souvenirs and small busts associated with the Soviet Union.

Whenever she has time, Stepanishvili buys all the Stalin stuff she can to show the lasting impact he had and his legacy on the Soviet Union.

She is hopeful that the name of the Soviet dictator will be remembered fondly for generations to come.

Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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