If a commuter bus was decorated with a portrait of Hitler it wouldn't last long, but strangely one with Stalin's portrait doesn't produce quite the same reaction, at least in Russia. And while the two tyrants had the same attitudes to the way the people of Poland in particular should be treated, in their own countries there was a big difference. In 1939 the population of Germany's concentration camps was about 21,000. In Stalin's Gulags there were 9 million. During Stalin's great purges over 1937-1938, about 800,000 were shot. In contrast the number of Germans the Nazis disposed of before WW2 was quite small. The biggest purge was that of the leadership of their own Sturmabteilung in June 1934, a few hundred.
The "Stalinobus" made its debut in 2010 to a cold reception (see earlier post) but the organisers were not discouraged. The following year, the vehicle was again spotted at Victory Day celebrations, and multiple buses were seen rolling through a number of Russian cities on 7 November, a date that marks both the beginning of the country’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and a major show of military force at Moscow’s Red Square in 1941. Although the “Stalinobus” was welcomed by a number of towns in Siberia, Russia's capital Moscow refused to allow the vehicle onto its streets.
If all goes according to plan, “Stalinobus” organisers hope to have vehicles decked-out with Stalin portraits in 40 cities in time for Victory Day this year. But, as in the past, their ambitions have been met with resistance. In addition to vehicles in major Russian cities, “Stalinobuses” have also been planned in the capitals of former Soviet states, such as Latvia and Estonia. The Baltic states hold a very different view of the role the former USSR played in their "liberation" from Nazi control. As a result, a number of countries have banned the use of Soviet symbols.
With Victory Day just around the corner, on-line Russian news source Lenta.ru reported that authorities in Moscow, Latvia’s capital Riga and Estonia’s capital Tallinn, had already vowed to prohibit “Stalinobuses” from taking part in celebrations. However, “Stalinobus” organisers say they have already raised about 225,000 rubles ($US 7,700) to buy advertising space on commuter buses.