Moscow, Dec.4 (ANI): Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who sent millions to their deaths during his nearly three decade long reign of terror, is closer to being rehabilitated, thanks to incumbent Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Praising Stalin's achievements openly, Putin said he must be given credit for making the Soviet Union an industrial superpower, and for defeating Hitler in the Second World War.
According to The Times, Putin declared that it was "impossible to make a judgment in general" about the man who presided over the Gulag slave camps.
His view contrasted sharply with that of President Medvedev, Russia's nominal leader, who has said that there is no excuse for the terror unleashed by Stalin.
Putin said he had deliberately included the issue of Stalin's legacy in a marathon annual question-and-answer programme on live television, because it was being "actively
"It's obvious that, from 1924 to 1953, the country that Stalin ruled changed from an agrarian to an industrial society. We remember perfectly well the problems, particularly at the end, with agriculture, the queues for food and such like ... but industrialisation certainly did take place," Putin said.
"We won the Great Patriotic War [the Russian name for the Second World War]. Whatever anyone may say, victory was achieved. Even when we consider the losses, nobody can now throw stones at those who planned and led this victory, because if we'd lost the war, the consequences for our country would have been much more catastrophic," he added.
Putin said that positive aspects of Stalin's rule "undoubtedly existed", but had been achieved at too high a price.
"There was repression. This is a fact. Millions of our citizens suffered from this. And this way of running a state, to achieve a result, is not acceptable. It is impossible. Certainly, in this period we encountered not only a cult of personality, but a massive crime against our own people. This is also a fact. And we must not forget this," the Russian Prime Minister said.
Putin's willingness to praise Stalin put him at odds with Mr Medvedev, who issued a forceful condemnation of the dictator's regime on October 30 - the day that Russia commemorates victims of political repression in the Soviet Union.
Putin answered 80 questions in a broadcast that demonstrated his continuing dominance of politics. Most focused on the economic crisis, and questioners in different parts of the country repeatedly asked Putin to intervene to save their factories from closure.
He told one that he had "plenty of time" to decide whether to return to the Kremlin as President at the next election in 2012.
He said that he and President Medvedev could "work together effectively" because they shared the same university background, and values, as graduates of Leningrad State University. (ANI)