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Protests after activist defaces icon of Stalin in Georgia

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The controversy was sparked by an online video showing paint splashed on an icon of the former Soviet leader in Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Protesters from the pro-Russian group Alt-Info gathered outside the home of an activist in Georgia, loudly accusing her of “insulting” a religious icon.

Although it was initially unclear whether Nata Peradze had defaced it herself, she eventually admitted to throwing blue paint on the devotional painting in Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The religious icon – which was installed in the main cathedral of the Georgian capital Tbilisi – depicts Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. It sparked mixed reactions in Georgia.

A former member of the Georgian parliament, Giorgi Kandelaki, drew public attention to the icon over the weekend, saying it strengthened support for Stalin, local media reported.

Many Georgians took offense at the icon, which highlighted deeply rooted divisions over the former Soviet dictator’s legacy.

Stalin was born and raised in the South Caucasus country, although he later presided over the USSR, which ruled Georgia from Moscow.

His reign between 1924 and 1953 is known for brutality, violence and mass killings.

The icon was donated to the Tbilisi church by leaders of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, a right-wing populist party, and has been in the church for several months.

It depicts scenes from the life of Saint Matrona of Moscow, one of which shows Joseph Stalin, a famous atheist.

Stalin is known to have persecuted religious groups and leaders during his time in power.

The panel has since been cleaned and placed under police surveillance. Georgia authorities have initiated legal proceedings over the vandalism of the icon.

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