The decision of Moscow officials to place the image of Stalin on the posters dedicated to the 65th anniversary of Victory in World War II caused a lively discussion among the Russians. Additionally, it turned out that Stalin can be not only hated or admired, but may also serve as a good source of income.
In February Moscow officials announced that they will be locating informational stands describing the role of Stalin as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief in World War II in different areas of the city. They were planning to place the image on 10 out of 2,000 stands. Even this meager number caused protests of famous activists and politicians who promised to hold their own counter-acts if the officials do not abandon the idea of “Stalin’s renaissance.” They threatened to organize public pickets, rallies, and marches or place posters telling “the truth” about Stalin’s cult of personality.
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“Not a single poster with Stalin should be up for more than 24 hours,” “kill the tyrant, even on paper” – Nicolai Uskov, chief editor of GQ magazine appeals to public in his blog. “Movement “We” will destroy these posters the first morning they are up, and you will not get a chance to see them,” Roman Dobrokhotov, the leader of this tiny organization, readily supports the glamorous editor.
Any action causes a proportional reaction. The Stalinists who were quite melancholic before could not ignore the challenge. “Let them take the posters down. I will wear a t-shirt with Stalin’s face and put my favorite brass knuckles in my pocket. Let them jump,” a Stalinist said to a potential enemy, explaining the consequences. Many share his point of view.
A spontaneous action “On May 9 I will wear a t-shirt with Stalin’s face. What about you?” is growing in numbers, which makes companies specializing in custom images very happy.
The abundance of offers on-line accompanied by ads like “I want to buy a t-shirt with Stalin’s face. Or two – another one as a gift for my friend. The biggest sizes available. Where can I get those?” suggest that this is the PR act of the companies themselves.
There are many home-bred merchants in on-line community as well. Certain famous in their own circles bloggers had a meeting over a beer and created several images of Stalin with various slogans. They then placed the images on-line for open use. Some did use them, for their own financial good.
There is a company in Moscow that offers money for ideas. The scheme is simple. After registering on their website, a seller may place her goods (a t-shirt, mug or a pin) with an image she created. The creative piece is sold at a price that includes the company fee for printing and markup for the seller. Some resourceful individuals took advantage of the situation and offered an entire set of goods with the image of Stalin.
This type of business is not a Russian know-how. In Poland, a few hours after the crash of the plane with the President, some merchants started production of a series of t-shirts with the Polish flag and “RIP” slogan, 8 to 9 dollars each. Stores were selling alarm clocks with the image of the President and his wife, domain names with the President’s name, stickers, post cards and even computer mouse pads with a slogan “Hang in there, Poland!” The most resourceful individuals were selling tickets to the President’s funeral in Krakow.
Back to the topic of the “personality cult or no personality cult.” There is every reason to believe that Stalinists will agree with merchants that Stalin may become a popular brand and compete with another revolutionary hero, Che Guevara. On the other hand, if the trend continues, we can expect to see swim suits with the image of Lenin or lingerie with “prostitute Trotsky.” Business and fashion dictate their own conditions that have nothing to do with any ideology.