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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK
Ukraine row over Stalin posters
Joseph Stalin
Stalin is accused of creating the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine
The authorities in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk have removed billboards of ex-Soviet leader Joseph Stalin urging residents to pay their utility bills.

The decision was taken after protests by human rights groups and nationalists, AP news agency said.

Billboards saying "Those who do not pay for heating will be punished!" appeared in the eastern city last week.

Historians say Stalin engineered the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, during which up to 10 million people died.

A local energy company had come up with the idea of putting up the Stalin billboards, Ukraine's media said.

It said at least five of them appeared in Donetsk last week.

One of the billboards showed Stalin holding a piece of paper and saying: "Comrades! This is not a film! This is life!"

Utility rates have increased dramatically across Ukraine in recent months, and many residents have stopped paying them in protest.


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