It appears that the Russian people do not have much of a list when choosing who their most popular historical figures are nationwide poll shows.
I mean, what does it mean when the third place winner is the warm and loving is Soviet dictator Josef Stalin despite the fact that:
- purges marked his rule,
- millions of Soviet citizens perished from famine during forced collectivization,
- millions were executed as "enemies of the people" and
- millions more died in Gulag hard labor camps during Stalin's rule which lasted for almost 30 years until his death in 1953.
But he still won an 11.5 percent share of the voting so far!
The 12 finalists are led, with 11.7 percent of the vote, by 13th century prince Alexander Nevsky, who is commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Russia. Prince Nevsky defeated German invaders and, believe it or not, became a saint in 1547 despite being married twice.
He is followed by Pyotr Stolypin, a prime minister in the early 20th century known for agrarian reforms and a clampdown on leftist revolutionaries, with 11.6 percent. He is often cited as one of the last major statesmen of Imperial Russia with a clearly defined political programms and determination to undertake major reforms. He was assasinated on September 14, 1911 while watching Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Kiev Operan house.
The project was launched with an original list of 50 historical figures and closes with the final vote broadcast live on Sunday.
Whatever the result, human rights activists and communists say the vote has already showed Stalin enjoys unprecedented popularity in capitalist Russia.
"The younger generation is fed with myths about Stalin. It knows nothing about the millions who died in Gulag camps but well knows he was a strong leader who defeated (Nazi) Germany," stated human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov.
Ponomaryov went on to say, "Again, foreign enemies are to blame for all internal problems, so you need to rule with an iron fist -- it's a purely Stalinist method."
Stalin's nostalgic supporters like to repeat that he defeated Nazi Germany, industrialized the Soviet Union and achieved total literacy across a backward peasant nation.
I had no idea the Russian people were so forgiving!