Medvedev criticizes Stalin but credits him with role in WWII victory

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has slammed Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his entourage for practices amounting to "war" on their nation but credited them with contributing to the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

"Not only Josef Stalin but also a whole number of other leaders undoubtedly deserve an extremely harsh assessment for what was happening in those times," Medvedev said at a meeting on Tuesday with the leadership of the Perm regional branch of the ruling United Russia party.

"It must stay in the annals of our history so that it can never happen again. Because a war against one's own people is an extremely grave crime," he said.

However, it would be wrong to "delete glorious pages in the Soviet part of the history of our country," he insisted.

Not only the people but also the leadership of the Soviet Union should be credited with victory over Nazi Germany during World War II, he argued.

"It was a victory of the entire country, including its leadership, no matter what it was like, no matter what attitude we take to it. There were quite many people there who don't seem nice to me, for example. But it was after all their victory as well - not only the victory of the people but also that of the decisions that were made then. It was a joint effort," he said.

He hailed the fact that a museum of victims of Stalin-era persecutions has been set up in the Perm territory and deplored the absence of such museums in other parts of Russia though, he said, there had been initiatives to that effect.

"We must remember what was happening. And, by the way, these words perhaps mean a lot more here in the Perm territory than in other places, where people have forgotten what was happening in the 30s and 40s," he said.

Since 1991, Russia has been observing Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Persecution on Oct. 30, commemorating victims of Stalin's reign of terror, which peaked in 1937-38.

The day involves memorial events nationwide, including the annual "Bringing Back the Names" rallies at the Solovki Stone in Moscow, organized by human rights group Memorial, during which lists of victims of Stalin's executions are read out.

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