Jamil Ziyadaliev is a professional Stalin impersonator in Georgia. Hosts of weddings and other events pay him to dress up as the Soviet dictator. But he also sports the costume on days off, and I don't blame him. Thanks to Stalin similarities, Jamil receives free meals, car repairs, and passages through Russian checkpoints.
The most fascinating aspect of Jamil's unlikely career choice is that it reveals the unlikely respect many Georgians have for native son Stalin. A cult of Stalin persists in Georgia, a country of 4.6 million that has troubles with modern Russia. One Georgian historian explains: "Every Georgian knows Stalin came from here. He may have given his execution orders in Russian, but he did so with a heavy Georgian accent."
To find out what the Georgian government is doing to combat Russian love,
In Gori, Georgia, where Stalin was born, a statue of Stalin pervades the town square, and the Stalin museum sells Stalin memorabilia. Cleverly, following Russia's invasion of Georgia last August, Georgia's government announced plans to open a museum in Gorgi about Russian occupation throughout history.
Even though a Stalin impersonator gets a free ride in Georgia, many Georgians denounce Stalin for his brutal acts. And according to sociologists, those who still revere Stalin do so thanks to Georgia's failure to adequately air Stalin's atrocities.