An heir to the Ford Motor fortune wants to build a center for the Krishna movement in Moscow, but has encountered stiff opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church reports the London Guardian.

The group has often been called a “cult” and has a sordid history of child sexual abuse. And one of its most important leaders was criminally convicted and sent to prison.

However, Ford seems oblivious to Krishna’s troubled past and intent upon giving them millions for construction projects. He has already dropped $10 million for what has been labeled the Krishna “Vatican” in India.

The leader of the group’s Russian devotees is seeing red though, over the Orthodox Church’s opposition to his Moscow building plans.

He called the historic church “one of the most totalitarian sects in the world.”

Sounds like “the pot calling the kettle black” doesn’t it?

Krishna’s history of dictators began with its founder “His Divine Grace” Prabhupada, down to the present hierarchy.

“For me the most important thing is to spread the Hindu knowledge,” claimed the Krishna leader.

But Hindus have said that the so-called “Krishna Consciousness movement” is little more than an aberration and fringe group, outside of mainstream Hinduism.

And within the ranks of “cults” it is Krishna that appears to be “one of the most totalitarian sects in the world.”

Personality cults and Communism have historically often gone hand in hand–from Stalin to Mao.

Oddly, today the only remaining political legacy of Stalinism is not in Russia, but within North Korea under the regime of the “Great Leader” Kim Jong Il.

And now an interesting historical exhibit has opened at Moscow’s Museum of Russian Contemporary History, titled, “Stalin: Man and Symbol.”

This retrospective explores the strange phenomenon of Stalinism through its residue of artifacts and memorabilia, which fills two rooms, reports the London Telegraph.

Stalin died in 1953 after a reign of terror that lasted thirty years and in many ways paralleled the modern history of North Korea.

Millions of Russians died through Stalinist purges, forced labor, gulags and mass starvation. But all this took place while the evil despot was seen as a benign father figure of almost supernatural stature, as the artifacts now on exhibit attest to.

Sound like the “Great Leader“?

But today Russians overwhelmingly recognize the horrors of that era, though a small minority still long for the certainty that accompanied Stalin’s rule.

There were no loose ends or ambiguity in Stalin’s Russia. He was the “great leader” and seemed to have all the answers.

Looking back it was Stalin’s total control of Soviet society, which enabled the dictator to essentially “brainwash” his people.

Russians were kept ignorant and unable to obtain and asses the information necessary to think outside of the box Stalin constructed, then known as the Soviet Empire.

Today some in Russia fear that admiration for President Vladimir Putin might evolve into another “personality cult.” However, it is doubtful that he has the will or the infrastructure to implement such a reactionary change.

Plainly put, Putin probably couldn’t close the box again, even if he wanted to. Russia is now a far more open society.

Old pensioner’s fond memories of Stalin seems like a longing for childhood, when daddy told them stories, controlled their lives and provided for the necessities.

It is very difficult for a totalitarian state to make the transition, from a society built upon learned dependence and absolute authority, to one based instead on independence and the value of individual freedom. In a free society people are expected to think for themselves.

North Korea’s Stalin was ironically born in Russia and died in 1994. But unlike his Russian prototype he left behind a family dynasty. Now Korea’s second Stalin rules over a closed, controlled and isolated domain with another son and heir apparent in waiting.

The question is, how many “Great Leaders” can North Korea endure?

Hopefully, one-day North Korea like Russia, will have an exhibit rather than a ruler to reflect upon the meaning of its own personality cult.

The museum curator of the Stalin artifacts said, “The exhibition is supposed to show how far propaganda can carry people in the praise of one person.”

“I will kill you like an American Imperialist,” is a popular curse in North Korea. The people there are subjected to a barrage of constant anti-US propaganda in an effort to unify the country, often through hate of the outside world, reports Associated Press.

A South Korean fisherman who was kidnapped and spent 20 years in North Korea said, “It’s a daily fodder in North Korea. The first thing you hear when you wake up for the day is some form of diatribe against the Americans.”

A North Korean who defected in 1994 says, “If you rule a destitute country with a personality cult, you must present the people with something to hate. It’s brainwashing.”

Not unlike totalitarian dictators of the past who promoted cults of personality North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il, known as “Dear One,” reinforces his control through fear and hate.

Like Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini, the original “Axis of Evil,” Kim Jung Il uses the requisite scapegoats, mythology, alleged conspiracies, grandiose pretension and xenophobia, to reinforce his rule.

North Korea, frequently described as a “Stalinist state,” follows that sorry chapter in Russian history closely too. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions of his countrymen and created an aura of almost supernatural power and mystique about him.

“Stalinism” was by definition personality-driven.

And just like Stalin the “Dear One” largely possesses the minds of his people by controlling all information within his country and virtually any contact with the outside world. Kim Jong Il has carefully crafted a worldview for North Koreans, which effectively excludes any objective accounts of history.

Hopefully, one day North Korea will follow Russian history one more step and eventually pull down the statues of the Stalinist demigods, who have brought that nation decades of needless misery.

But the pressing question now is what has the rest of the world learned from history about dealing with such tyrants?

Increasingly it seems that a cult following is developing within Russia regarding its current leader Vladimir Putin, reports The Globe and Mail.

The former KGB agent now President has an approval rating higher (70%) than his American counterpart George W. Bush. Books and songs have been dedicated to him and Russians seem to think he has brought respectability back to the Kremlin after years of bungled bureaucracy and sordid corruption.

But apparently unlike past Russian icons such as Lenin and Stalin, Putin reportedly wants no hero worship and discourages such reverence.

Historically totalitarian Communist regimes have produced quite a few personality cults such as China’s Chairman Mao, Kim Il Sung “The Great Leader” of North Korea and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam.

Interestingly, when Stalin died, despite his brutality the people of Russia wept. And in North Korea today even though much of the population suffers from starvation they still appear to be loyal followers of “The Dear Leader,” Kim Il Sung’s son.

Putin is wise to discourage such hero worship. Historically, personality cults have not served Russian well, from the times of the Czars to its era of Commissars. Statues of Lenin are now toppled throughout the former Soviet empire and Stalin is viewed as almost Satanic. Putin can leave a more lasting legacy by acting as an agent for positive change rather than an icon.

Another cult leader thinks he’s Jesus and this one has 4,000 Russians who believe him, reports the London Telegraph. The followers of Sergei Torop have gathered from all over Russia to meet the man who says, “I am Jesus Christ…It was prophesied that I would return to finish what I started.” But unlike Jesus of the New Testament, this “Redeemer” has a wife and six children. I wonder which one is Jesus Jr.?

Russia is experiencing a virutual “Renaissance,” regarding cults and sects.