Oddly Enough

Stalin's grandson launches second libel case

Russian communists stand in line in Red square to attend a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin marking the 130th anniversary of his birthday at the Kremlin wall in Moscow, December 21, 2009. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The grandson of Josef Stalin is suing the radio station Ekho Moskvy, it said on Saturday, in a second attempt to stem media criticism of the leader whom many Russians still revere for victory in World War Two.

Yevgeny Dzhugashvili is seeking 10 million roubles’ ($326,900) compensation and an apology from Ekho Moskvy over comments made by presenter Matvey Ganapolsky on a program in October, who said:

“Stalin signed an order that children can be shot from the age of 12 as enemies of the nation. Which of the bastards dares say a single word in his defense?”

Ekho Moskvy said it had been notified of the lawsuit.

Earlier this year a Russian court threw out a similar case by Dzhugashvili against Novaya Gazeta newspaper which said Stalin had personally ordered the killings of thousands of Soviet citizens.

Historians said at the time the court’s decision was a victory in Russia where they say there is a creeping attempt to paint a more benevolent picture of the Soviet Union’s most feared leader, under whose rule millions perished.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed into the fierce national debate on Stalin’s legacy this month, praising him for industrializing the Soviet Union and winning World War Two, but condemning his repression.

Some 37 percent of Russians look on Stalin with respect, sympathy or even admiration, according to a WCIOM poll published this week. Roughly a quarter of the population dislikes, fears or hates him and the rest are indifferent.

Writing by Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Jon Hemming