Putin Revives Stalinist Cult
Of Worker Hero
By Alice Lagnado in Moscow,,3-2001242574,00.html

Factory workers, miners, shop assistants and schoolchildren in every region across Russia will be rewarded for their productivity in President Putin,s revival of the Stalinist cult of the dedicated Russian worker.
In a populist return to the potent value system of the Soviet era, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that the country,s most industrious workers would have their photographs pinned on special boards of honour in every state institution and feature in television programmes and on websites trumpeting their dedication to Russia,s glorious future.
The revival of the cult of the industrious worker, which reached its peak in Stalin,s era, will bring back horrific memories of slave-labour working conditions and frequent punishments for alleged misdemeanours that often led to a spell in the gulag. Stalin told his people that they must imitate Stakhanov, a miner who hewed more coal in a day than anyone else.
Nevertheless many will welcome the measures, which could bring a little happiness to the nation not known for its joie de vivre and give people an illusion of living in the old Communist nanny state. "I see this as an attempt to return to those values which are familiar and understandable to the Russian people, Andrei Biryukov, a political analyst, said.
In Moscow, a national All-Russian Board of Honour will be restored to oversee the programme and the ministry has asked factory bosses and farm managers throughout Russia to set up regional branches.
In terms redolent of the Soviet era, a ministry spokesman said that "the revival of the values of conscientious labour is acquiring particular significance as the source of all the material and spiritual blessings which people enjoy.
That is unlikely to encourage cheerful productivity in Russia,s collective farms, havens of drunkenness and lethargy, or in state-owned supermarkets, where assistants are notorious for their unwillingness to move from the smoking-room to the till.
Most Russian workers would find a healthy pay packet the biggest incentive to get to work: the millions struggling on two or three jobs because their state salary is typically between £10 and £50 a month are already working hard enough.



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