Dostoevsky family fights 'gambler' slur

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The Independent Online

The great-grandson of the tortured Russian literary genius Fyodor Dostoevsky has launched an extraordinary lawsuit to fend off "a crass attempt" to remind people that the writer was an appalling gambling addict. Dmitri Andreevich Dostoevsky, 60, a chatty St Petersburg pensioner, says he has been deeply upset by the release of a banknote-styled lottery ticket with a portrait of his illustrious relative beside a scratch card with the slogan "(You can win) a car in every ticket."

The great-grandson of the tortured Russian literary genius Fyodor Dostoevsky has launched an extraordinary lawsuit to fend off "a crass attempt" to remind people that the writer was an appalling gambling addict. Dmitri Andreevich Dostoevsky, 60, a chatty St Petersburg pensioner, says he has been deeply upset by the release of a banknote-styled lottery ticket with a portrait of his illustrious relative beside a scratch card with the slogan "(You can win) a car in every ticket."

The tickets give anyone willing to hand over 50 rubles (£1) the chance to win a car or a four-wheel drive BMW. Mr Dostoevsky told The Independent yesterday the tickets gave people the incorrect impression that the author of such works as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov was a gambler first, and being a writer came second.

"I have to put a stop to this," he said. "He had turned his back on gambling 150 per cent and was an extremely honest man. This is shameful." His lawyers are suing the company which produces the lottery tickets, for 200,000 rubles (£4,000) in moral damages.

Under Russian law, his lawyers say, the firm should have asked Mr Dostoevsky for his permission to publish the image and that in not doing so they violated his private life.

The tickets went on sale last November but are no longer available. It is no secret that Dostoevsky (1821-81) did suffer a terrible addiction to gambling and was often forced to write his novels at breakneck speed to raise money to satisfy his many creditors.

Drawing on his tortured experiences (he repeatedly lost small fortunes) he even wrote a novel, The Gambler, in which the protagonist Aleksei Ivanovich drifts from casino to casino in a fictional German town called Roulletenberg.

Many modern gamblers say the book helped them give up. The novelist, who became deeply religious, was constantly trying to keep his addiction at bay but often pawned his wife's clothes and jewellery.

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