Understanding the Cult of Personality: The Deconstruction of Stalin’s Myth
“For Georgians, Stalin is more of a national icon rather than a political ideal,” stated sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili with regard to his evaluation of his research results. The sociological survey that studied the attitudes toward Stalin in Russia and the South Caucasus involved 3 500 respondents and was conducted together with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. According to the results of the survey, respect for Stalin dominates in Georgia, but at the same time, 63% of the interviewed gave a negative response to the question “Do you wish to live in the country ruled by the person like Stalin?” According to the opinion of one of the speakers, Lasha Bakradze, “Stalin, of whom the whole world was so scared of, seems to have remained a strong personality for Georgians, and he is still the most famous Georgian. He has become the subject of worship and local patriotism.” Lasha Bakradze explains the positive attitude towards Stalin by his Georgian origin, while Irakli Khvadagiani calls the survey results, as well as the Georgians’ attitude to Stalin, paradoxical, since the survey has also shown that the public assessment of the Stalin cult of personality is ambivalent. Mr. Kachkachishvili considers that one question is not enough to develop a real understanding of the attitude towards Stalin. In Russia, the attitude is different; they are indifferent to Stalin, and in Azerbaijan, the most frequent response was, “I don’t know who Stalin is.” The speakers explained this trend saying that Azerbaijan was distanced from Stalin’s epoch. In the speakers’ opinion, the sympathy towards Stalin will also fade away over time in Georgia. In the opinion of Nino Chkhetia, in order to deconstruct Stalin’s myth, it is necessary to raise public awareness. This is especially important under the current circumstances, in which the government is not taking any steps to start the process of de-Stalinization.