I was visiting the fine WWII memorial park “Monument to Glory”. And there he was, posed casually in front of a giant historical mosaic.
The most surprising part is that the bust is new, added in 2009 by the local Communist Party. Presumably with the assent of the city government.
According to the Lonely Planet Russian guide, there are at least a couple of other Stalin busts lurking around North Ossetia. Lonely Planet asserts that there is a local fondness for Stalin due to ethnic politics: in the 1940s, Stalin left the Ossetians in place but deported their hated ethnic enemies, the Ingush, en masse. Hmm. It’s possible, but it seems a stretch.
As it happens, the memorial park also has a small, touching memorial to the 2004 Beslan tragedy, when Ingush and Chechen terrorists attacked a North Ossetian school.
Also in Vladikavkaz I spotted an unexpected billboard. At first I thought it must be an advert for the Russian equivalent of the History Channel, or suchlike. But no, it’s quite serious. It’s from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the message is “He was a communist! Come join us!” Interesting! No hint of ambiguity or historical reticence there.