14 Oct 2009

Stalin libel case fails

10:12 am on 14 October 2009

A Russian court has thrown out a libel case brought by a grandson of Josef Stalin against a newspaper he accused of defaming the late Soviet dictator.

Judge Alexandra Lopatkina ruled that Novaya Gazeta did not smear Stalin's name by saying he personally ordered the killings of thousands of Soviet citizens.

BBC reports Stalin's grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, had been seeking damages of 10 million roubles ($US340 million) from the paper. His supporters have said they will lodge an appeal.

Mr Dzhugashvili had argued that this was a lie and that Stalin never directly ordered any deaths.

Correspondents say the case is seen by many as part of a campaign backed by the Kremlin to rehabilitate Stalin's reputation.

Historians say there is a creeping attempt to paint a more benevolent picture of him. Millions of people died in Gulag labour camps or from famine under Stalin's rule.

Stalin died in 1953.