The city government of Kosice, the second-largest city in Slovakia, voted on Friday to take away the honorary citizenship it granted in 1947 to Josef Vissionariovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Joseph Stalin, apparently having learned a few disturbing facts about the guy that had not previously come to its attention.
After a "moral evaluation of the past," said a spokesperson for the city, "Kosice councillors have decided to take back this title." According to the article, the title was awarded in 1947 "in recognition of the Red Army's liberation of the city towards the end of World War Two." It may have also had something to do with not wanting to be murdered by Mr. Stalin, who it seems was leader of the Soviet Union at the time.
The extent of the government's investigation into Stalin's past is not clear, but a quick check of Wikipedia reveals that Stalin was the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953, and must have been a really good secretary because he got to make a lot of important decisions. According to Wikipedia, some of these decisions may have been a little questionable, such as having almost a million people executed and letting another 2 million die in concentration camps, and also causing a famine in which maybe 6 to 8 million died. He does not seem to have actually killed anyone in his own family, although he reportedly did respond to learning that his oldest son had tried but failed to commit suicide by saying "He can't even shoot straight."
So with that kind of evidence of good citizenship, it is easy to see why the 1947 citizenship honor was still in place 54 years after Stalin's death and 14 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union itself. A similar motion brought before the Kosice city council actually failed in 2001, and a number of local lawmakers reportedly abstained from the successful vote on Friday, arguing that a "more exhaustive analysis" was necessary.
I haven't researched the topic as long as they have, but I'm not really finding anything all that positive. What's somebody going to argue? "Yes, Mr. Stalin was a thug and a butcher who may have killed as many as 20 million people, but on the other hand, he was a marvelous dancer."
Link: AFP via Yahoo! News