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Inside Stalin's dacha - but no sign of a secret metro

by at 18/11/2010 12:47

The secrets of Stalin’s “near dacha” have been unveiled – but the fabled Metro-2 rail link is nowhere to be seen.

Kuntsevo, an unassuming Moscow suburb, became the focus of intense speculation when Josef Stalin ordered a dacha there in the early 1930s.

It was a favoured retreat from the Kremlin, and was the place where he died on March 5, 1953.

But there was no top-secret metro service, according to State Security Agency (FSO) official and historian Sergei Devyatov.

Devyatov has written a book about the dacha, and invited journalists to explore the site with him this week.


No metro, but a bunker

The house, screened by a thicket of imported trees, has had its interior completely reconstructed as it was in Stalin’s time.

Everything from the skewers used to grill shashlyk over the fire to the Turkish sofas where the Communist leader loved to recline have been carefully recreated, RIA Novosti reported.

But the only underground feature was a 17 metre deep bunker built in 1942 as the USSR fought off the Nazi invasion.

Originally it was decorated with Karelian birch bark, which has not survived, Devyatov said.


Music and magazines

Among the dacha’s decorations Stalin kept clippings of newspaper and magazine articles which he liked.

These were enlarged and framed for public display.

And in the large hall on the ground floor, used for everything from politburo meetings to banquets and the occasional solo dinner, Stalin kept an expensive piano acquired in 1918 and a radio set presented to him by Britain’s wartime PM Winston Churchill.

The radio still works, and picks up modern-day Russian stations perfectly well, RIA Novosti reported.


Still off-limits

For some time after his death the dacha was used as a museum and later even as a hotel before it returned to the FSO in 1991.

Hotel staff were strictly forbidden to refer to the building’s past, however, amid fears of a cult of personality growing around the late leader.

But while Devyatov and his colleagues have prepared a detailed history of the site, complete with accounts of Stalin’s life there, security is still at Stalinist levels.

With the Soviet leader still a hugely divisive figure in Russian society, where he is hailed as a war hero but reviled as a tyrant, there are no plans to reopen the dacha to the public, Interfax reported.

“This is an object of the FSO and does not have the status of a museum, even though it meets all the requirements,” Devyatev said. “It cannot interfere with the activities held here, which by their nature cannot be made public.”


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