ERR in Georgia: Stalin still revered in city of birth
It is believed in controversial Georgia that the local army could withstand an attack from Russia despite its seemingly pro-Moscow government, while Stalin is still revered in the city where he was born.
In Gori, the birthplace of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, tourists pose in front of a museum dedicated to the despot, with Stalin-themed souvenirs on sale.
The destroyer of millions of lives is still considered a great man in Gori.
"People are proud of him and love him. We don't have to close the Stalin museum. The younger generation considers him a cult figure, while the old believe he did what needed to be done at the time," local resident Gena said.
"I believe he was and remains a hero. He stopped fascism and won the Second World War," Sofo found.
"I believe he was a good person, Stalin was a good man. I think he was a hero and a brilliant human being," Bada shared.
A Russian military base in occupied South Ossetia can be seen on the road from Gori to Tbilisi. How good is the Georgian army today?
"Our soldiers are highly motivated to defend our territory – that I know for a fact. We have the long-term U.S. program we've been following for 20 years. We have Javelins, we have PZRK anti-tank weapons, the Stingers, just like the Ukrainians had at first. Meaning that irrespective of who is in power in Georgia, I would advise Russia against invading our cities, especially considering the state it is in," said Gela Vasadze, expert at the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center.
Georgia is a country full of controversy. Opposition leader, former President Mikheil Saakashvili is in jail and a political refugee from Russia is demanding his freedom.
"I'm a political refugee from Yekaterinburg, Russia. I fought the Putin regime there, came here for what I believed was freedom and democracy but it turns out they're playing the same game here. The land is completely seized... can you see the fences behind us," Rafael from Russia said, pointing to the government building he was protesting in front of. "Collaborators, a pro-Putin government is inside," he said.
Observers suggest that Georgia will not see change until Ukraine wins the war against Russia. Until then, oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili will remain in power.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski