A picture of Joseph Stalin and a Russian Orthodox saint meeting was taken down from Georgia’s main cathedral.
The Georgian Church stated that the painting was taken to be fixed because there wasn’t enough proof that the two people in the painting had actually met.
The painting upset a lot of people and an activist recently threw blue paint on it to protest.
The church leaders and the ruling party have criticized the action.
The Patriarchate of Georgia said last week that icons must show true stories and that the picture of Stalin needs to be changed.
“The people who gave us the picture need to fix it, or we will have to do it for them,” it said.
A lot of people in Georgia are upset with the Church for accepting the icon because Stalin, who was from Georgia and wanted to be a priest when he was young, did a big purge of the clergy when he was in charge.
A picture of St. Matrona of Moscow was put in a church in Tbilisi. Matrona was a Russian woman who lived in the 20th century and was known for her visions and healing abilities. She was declared a saint in the 1990s.
In one picture, the Russian Orthodox saint is giving blessings to Stalin.
Several months ago, the Alliance of Patriots, a nationalist party suspected of ties to the Kremlin, donated it to the church.
The icon became famous this month after the politician Giorgi Kandelaki talked about it. It has been causing arguments and disagreements since it started.
Activist Nata Peradze posted a video of herself throwing eggs filled with paint at a picture, and explained that she was protesting against making a cruel leader seem heroic.
“I had to do something. I’m not going to talk about Stalin’s Terror because everyone knows about it, but my family on both sides suffered and relatives disappeared,” she told the BBC.
A very traditional pro-Russian group called Alt-Info, was involved in violent attacks against journalists in 2021 because of their homophobic beliefs. They have also organized protests outside Ms. Peradze’s house and in front of parliament.
She says people are threatening to kill her, so she’s hiding now. The police are protecting her house.
The scandal about the famous person has started a big argument in the country about the Soviet leader’s history.
The Georgian Dream party said it was bad that the icon was ruined, but they haven’t said anything about the national discussion about Stalin’s role.
The Sovlab research group is studying Georgia’s history of being controlled by the Soviet Union. They think that Russia’s leader, Putin, is making the Soviet dictator look good again. They also believe that Russia is using this as a way to control how people in Georgia think.
Sovlab has found 12 new statues of Stalin in Georgia in the last 10 years.
The singer in the choir who is very talented and special.
Stalin was born in Gori, Georgia in 1878. A very important person in the Russian revolution helped the Bolsheviks take control, and then he was the leader of the USSR from 1924 until he died in 1953.
Stalin killed many people and used strict rules and fear to get rid of anyone who disagreed with him and to create a communist government.
A lot of people in a tiny country in South Caucasian do not like the things that the Soviet Union left behind. But, some still feel proud of Stalin because he came from there and started with not much.
On 16 January, British author Simon Sebag Montefiore visited Tbilisi for a movie based on his book, Young Stalin. He was surprised to see the dictator’s picture in the cathedral.
Stalin went to a religious school and believed in God until he was almost an adult. “He was the best singer in the choir,” he said.
“However, he became very against the Church, started living a non-religious life, stopped believing in God, and supported Bolshevism and Marxism instead. ”
“He thought that killing a lot of people could make society better. ”