…from The Preserve (Zapovednik) by Sergei Dovlatov. The scene is set in the Pskov oblast’ in the 1970s.
They did not like Stalin in the village. I had long noticed that. They must have well remembered collectivization and other Stalin tricks. Our “creative intelligentsia” [quotation marks mine – AK] ought to learn from the illiterate peasants. They say the audience in the Leningrad Palace of the Arts used to applaud when Stalin appeared on the screen.
Myself, I’d always hated him. Long before Khruschev’s reforms. Long before I learned to read. It was Mom’s political accomplishment. My mother, an Armenian from Tbilisi, had invariably criticized Stalin. Granted, in a rather peculiar way. She would say over and over:
“A Georgian can’t be a decent man!”