A lot of visitors to Russia like seeing some Soviet-era nostalgia, but old monuments and ugly apartment blocs now have to compete with the latest kitsch–a bus painted with the likeness of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
The bus is the initiative of Stalinist blogger Viktor Loginov, who raised money for the project in order to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. The 65th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi forces is on May 9.
The bus may not make it to the celebration, however, as it has already been vandalized once.
Loginov says he only wants to celebrate Stalin’s role in defeating Hitler, but human rights activists are appalled at seeing the Soviet leader’s face on the streets of St. Petersburg. Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union during World War Two and was instrumental in destroying the German army. American war propaganda fondly referred to him as “Uncle Joe”. Stalin killed millions of his own people by sending them to gulags, torture chambers, or, in the case of a rebellious Ukraine, starving an entire province into submission. While the exact number of his victims will never be known, some historians say he killed more people than Hitler. The Stalin bus highlights how today’s Russia is of two minds about its tumultuous past.