Internet users berated news outlet Reuters for referring to Joseph Stalin’s legacy as “polarizing” in a story recognizing the 70th anniversary of the Soviet leader’s death.
Reuters published a piece on the genocidal leader of the Soviet Union Friday, titled, “70 years after death, Stalin’s polarizing legacy looms large.” It described how “attitudes to the Soviet Union’s wartime leader remain mixed in the nations he once ruled with an iron fist.”
The article featured quotes from citizens in Moscow weighing in on the infamous World War II era leader, who has been blamed for the deaths of tens of millions of his citizens and those in nearby countries the USSR subjugated.
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As the New York Times reported in 1989, a Soviet Union newspaper famously admitted that “20 million died in labor camps, forced collectivization, famine and executions,” all under the dictator’s control.
Other accounts claim that Stalin was responsible for millions more deaths than the Soviet newspaper record.
The Reuters’ journalists wrote they received “mixed” views from Moscow resident on Stalin, who died on March 5, 1953 at the age of 74. Addressing the genocidal historical figure, one told the outlet, “Firstly, thank you for the victory (in World War Two). Secondly, he is a negative person for me because there were a lot of deaths. A lot of executions, shootings, expulsions, arts were banned, etc.”
They added, “So it’s impossible to have a clear position one way or the other.”
Another resident asked Reuters, “Why should I have a bad attitude towards him?” According to the report, he praised Stalin as “a strong unifying personality whose war victory should be lauded.”
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The piece also cited a 2021 poll from Russia, indicating that 45% of Russian citizens have “respect” for Stalin, with 48% supporting building monuments to him still.
Many Twitter users condemned the outlet for presenting the brutal leader as merely “polarizing.”
Conservative user and author Jacob Airey tweeted, “Stalin was a murderous dictator. This [is] ahistorical and fake news.”
Shocked, prominent conservative account @ComfortablySmug asked, “Polarizing????”
New York Times contributor Benjamin Ryan couldn’t believe the characterization, tweeting, “I literally can’t even.”
In another tweet, he wrote, “Polarizing? Really, Reuters? Like, totalitarianism is ‘controversial’?”
Seattle, Washington radio host Jason Rantz asked, “What the h— is wrong with you guys?”
Conservative news outlet The Daily Signal blasted Reuters, saying, “Wow, you chose to tweet this.”
Wall Street Journal film critic Kyle Smith satirized the article’s framing, tweeting, “Hitler: Some liked, others didn’t.”
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Conservative attorney Marina Medvin referenced the Holodomor, the murderous historical event during Stalin starved millions of Ukrainians to death, in response to the article. She tweeted, “Stalin targeted, tortured and killed millions of Ukrainians, forcing the living to eat their dead family members. Not to mention everyone else who lived under his communist terror regime.”
She added, “Reuters must hate Ukrainians. And humans.” She also shared screenshots of news articles reporting the dictator’s crimes against humanity.