Stalin's grandson fights for the good name of Joseph

Russian liberals sued over pamphlet saying that the dictator killed civilians

The grandson of Joseph Stalin has launched a libel suit against one of Russia's leading liberal newspapers, accusing it of lying in an article which stated Stalin had killed Soviet citizens.

As the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, defended the reputation of the wartime leader in Poland, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, the dictator's grandson, began his quest to claim nearly £200,000 from Novaya Gazeta.

"Half a century of lies have been poured over Stalin's reputation and he cannot defend himself from the grave, so this case is essential to put the record straight," Mr Dzhugashvili's lawyer, Leonid Zhura, told Reuters.

Liberal critics say that the drive to rehabilitate Stalin has official backing, with the Kremlin keen to glorify Russia's Soviet past and make Russians proud of their history, while glossing over Stalin's crimes.

Dzhugashvili is Stalin's real surname, and Yevgeny Dzhugashvili is the son of Stalin's son, Yakov, who was killed during the Second World War. It is believed that the Nazis offered to trade Yakov for a captured German field marshal, but Stalin refused the offer. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, however, remains an enthusiastic Stalinist.

His anger was raised by a Novaya Gazeta publication which referred to declassified secret documents ordering the execution of Soviet citizens and which are said to bear Stalin's personal signature.

The lawsuit also accuses the human rights organisation Memorial of libel. It has collected testimony about victims of Stalin's terror and the article appeared in a pamphlet that it published jointly with the newspaper.

The court case is part of an increasingly bitter conflict between liberals and Russian officials over control of Stalin's legacy. Over the past decade, the Kremlin has sought to portray Russia's victory in the Second World War as the most significant historical event of the 20th century. Attention has been focused on Stalin's supposedly heroic wartime leadership, and away from his crimes and repressions.

Last week, a Moscow metro station reopened after renovations, and horrified liberals found that an inscription lauding Stalin, which had been removed from the station after his death in the 1950s, had been restored.

"Stalin raised us to be loyal to the nation, inspired us to labour and great deeds," says the inscription, which is taken from an early version of the Soviet national anthem. Sergei Mitrokhin, the leader of the liberal Yabloko Party, called the inscription "scandalous" and said that Stalin had perpetrated a "monstrous genocide".

However Mr Zhura, Mr Dzhugashvili's lawyer, came to Stalin's defence "He turned populations into peoples, he presided over a golden era in literature and the arts; he was a real leader. We want to rehabilitate Stalin."

Such views find wide support among Russia's population, who are fed a diet of propagandistic television programmes and history textbooks about Stalin's war leadership and "effective management". Last year, in a competition to find the greatest Russian in history, the moustachioed dictator – who was actually an ethnic Georgian – came third.

The Stalin case is not the only bizarre lawsuit that Memorial has had to defend this week. Preliminary hearings also took place into another case linked to the kidnapping and execution of one of the group's leading activists, Natalya Estemirova.

In July, Ms Estemirova was snatched outside her home in Chechnya and killed. She had been investigating human rights abuses perpetrated under the pro-Kremlin Chechen ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Oleg Orlov, the head of Memorial, voiced what many were thinking after her death and said that Mr Kadyrov was responsible, at the very least because he presided over a country where such crimes could occur with impunity. Several of Mr Kadyrov's enemies and critics have met nasty ends over the past year but the chances of Mr Kadyrov being put on trial or questioned over any of the murders are infinitesimal.

On Monday, the same day the Stalin case began, hearings took place in a different courtroom into a lawsuit between Mr Kadyrov and Mr Orlov. Instead of it being a chance to put the Chechen leader – who has been accused of gruesome crimes – in the dock, the court heard a libel action by Mr Kadyrov against the Memorial head.

Mr Kadyrov accuses Mr Orlov of "insulting his honour and dignity" by saying he was responsible for Ms Estemirova's murder and demands compensation to the tune of £200,000.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker