Russia Communists plead: Don't slight Stalin on his birthday

Russia Communists Dont

The Russian Communist Party asked the nation on Monday for a day-long moratorium on criticizing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they celebrate the 130th anniversary of his birth. Despite overseeing political purges and widespread famine that killed millions of Soviet citizens, Stalin is still embraced by many Russians nostalgic for Soviet times. "We would very much like for any discussion of the mistakes of the Stalin epoch to be silenced today, so that people could reflect on Stalin's personality as a creator, a thinker and a patriot," Communist deputy parliament speaker Ivan Melnikov said on the party's Web site. The Communists represent the country's No. 2 political party after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia. Hundreds of Communists on Monday laid flowers at Stalin's grave on Moscow's Red Square, and about 3,000 people attended an evening concert in his honor.