Newspaper libeled Stalin, lawsuit claims

Part of an attempt to “rehabilitate” Russian tyrant, rights groups say

Millions died under the rule of Joseph Stalin, yet a Russian court heard a libel case yesterday brought by his grandson over a newspaper story claiming Stalin ordered the killings of citizens. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, Stalin’s grandson, is suing the Novaya Gazeta newspaper for 9.5 million rubles, and the author of the article for 500,000 rubles. His lawyer, Leonid Zhura, describes himself as a Stalinist; he claimed the article, which was based on declassified Kremlin documents and said that Stalin personally signed death orders, damaged the tyrant’s reputation. Zhura told Reuters that Stalin “turned populations into peoples, he presided over a golden era in literature and the arts, he was a real leader.” Meanwhile, rights groups worry the case is part of a growing attempt to “rehabilitate” the dictator: for example, he was voted Russia’s third most popular figure in history in a national poll last year.

Toronto Star