Grandson sues newspaper for Stalin 'libel'

Hearings began today in a libel case brought by the grandson of Joseph Stalin against a prominent Russian newspaper. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, the Soviet dictator’s grandson, took offence at an article published by the liberal paper Novaya Gazeta that accused Stalin of personally signing death warrants for thousands of people.

The article referred to declassified documents which the author claims bear Stalin’s signature. Mr Dzhugashvili, who did not show up in court today, says that this is a lie, and denies that his grandfather ordered any murders. He is seeking 10 million roubles (£200,000) of damages from the newspaper and demanding the retraction of several quotes from the article.

A small group of mostly elderly Stalin supporters gathered outside the central Moscow courtroom as hearings began, some of them bearing photographs of the dictator on their lapels. Both sides have requested previously classified documents to be brought before the court to help them make their case.

That the court is even hearing the case is bizarre, as almost all serious historians agree that Stalin was responsible for monstrous crimes. Orlando Figes, a British historian of Russian has compared the case to a holocaust denier in Germany being allowed to bring a case against a newspaper that wrote that Adolf Hitler was responsible for the deaths of Jews.

“This case is practically a trial of Stalin himself,” says prominent liberal journalist Anton Orekh. In Russia, there have been no official trials or public soul-searching over the darker elements of the country’s history.

The Kremlin has avoided making direct statements about Stalin in recent years, but many have observers have noted a subtle rehabilitation of Stalin during the Putin years. This court case comes at an interesting time, as liberals claim that the state is attempting to silence critics of the Soviet period and make Russians proud of their history. There was an uproar when a recent renovation of a Moscow metro station was revealed to have restored an inscription praising Stalin that had been removed after his death. In recent weeks pro-Kremlin youth activists have hounded a journalist who criticised supporters of the Soviet Union. They asked him to apologise or leave the country, and set up a picket outside his house.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there