Georgians march in downtown Gori, Stalin’s hometown, with a portrait of the Soviet leader in 2004.
With Georgia on the U.S. mainstream media’s map after its recent war with Russia, a new interest in Georgian history and politics seems to have come to life, especially concerning the cult of personality that Stalin still leads in his native land.
The New York Times:
With his signature mustache, medal-encrusted Soviet marshal’s uniform and determination to be addressed as “Comrade,” the Stalin impersonator Jamil Ziyadaliev should perhaps be out of work in Georgia, a country still reeling from a war with Russia.
Nodari Baliashvili, a Gori native, showing off a Stalin tattoo he got when he was a soldier in the Soviet Army.
But Mr. Ziyadaliev, 64, an avuncular father of two who dresses as Stalin even on days off, insists that business has seldom been better. He is a frequent hired guest at weddings, where he dances to Soviet Katyusha music from World War II.
“Looking like Stalin is like having a visa in Georgia,” said Mr. Ziyadaliev, a Muslim originally from Azerbaijan, who drove a taxi, peddled vegetables and worked as an accountant before deciding on a career as a modern incarnation of the brutal, diabolically brilliant Soviet tyrant.