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John Sweeney’s documentary on the return of Stalin-worshipping in Russia, which aired last night on BBC2 and can now be viewed on iPlayer, raises some provocative questions about the writing—and rewriting—of history. Is it so very shocking that Stalin was voted third greatest Russian ever in a nationwide TV poll last year? Shocking or otherwise, it’s a valuable reminder that, whatever our cosy liberal perception of Stalin in the west, his legacy in Russia is very different.

As Arkandy Ostrovksy wrote in “Flirting with Stalin,” his…

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