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Stalin Hometown Statue Restoration Gets Georgia Ministry Backing

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July 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection approved a proposal to restore a statue of Josef Stalin in his home town.

A bronze statue of the former Soviet dictator, which was dismantled in 2010 in Gori, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi, should be placed in a new location instead of the city center, Keti Ebanoidze, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said by phone in Tbilisi today.

Several Georgian villages already began restoring removed Stalin statues after the unexpected defeat of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition in October parliamentary elections. Two statues were toppled and spray-painted this year. Georgia’s parliament voted to ban Soviet symbols in 2011, 20 years after the country declared independence.

Saakashvili, speaking on the television channel Rustavi 2, said the restoration of the statue is a “barbaric, anti-state act,” urging the government to reassess the decision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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