The Russian Orthodox Church has come under heavy criticism on the Internet this week over a 2014 wall calendar published by a revered monastery's printing house that features portraits of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, the WWRN (World Wide Religion News) website reports today (January 11, 2014).
The black-and-white calendar -- titled "Stalin" and costing $6 -- is advertised as "a great gift for veterans and history fans." Many Russians still credit Stalin with Russia's victory over Germany in World War II and with making the Soviet Union a superpower.
The Russian Orthodox Church -- which was severely persecuted under Stalin but has enjoyed a resurgence since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 -- said it dismissed the head of the printing house in July once it found out about the printing, but the calendars had already been delivered.
"The Russian Orthodox Church was subject to the most severe repressions during Stalin's rule when thousands of priests were deported and executed. Releasing such a publication in a church establishment ... is morally unacceptable," Vakhtang Kipshidze, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, said.