Stalin’s grandson fails in defamation appeal to ECtHR

Joseph Stalin and Yevgeny Dzhugashvili

Joseph Stalin’s grandson has failed in his attempt to win damages at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) from a Russian newspaper which referred to his grandfather as a “bloodthirsty cannibal” and which asserted he was responsible for the murder of Polish officers in wartime.

The ECtHR has rejected Yevgeny Dzhugashvili’s (pictured right) defamation suit against Novaya Gazeta, a liberal Moscow newspaper.

In 2010, a Russian court threw the case out, prompting Mr Dzhugashvili, 79, the son of Stalin’s son Yakov, to take his case to Strasbourg.

His claim was that the court of first instance’s decision was in violation of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The court said that Stalin “inevitably remains open to public scrutiny and criticism”.

It distinguished between private life and legitimate criticism people can make of major historical figures.

Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s few independent news outlets, published two articles on Stalin in 2009 by Anatoly Yablokov – a former Russian prosecutor.

The articles looked at the Katyn massacre in 1940, when thousands of Polish prisoners of war were executed by the Soviet NKVD secret police in a forest in Russia.

However, for 50 years Moscow blamed the crime on the Nazis.

Mr Yablokov’s articles argued that Stalin and the Soviet Politburo signed an order to shoot civilians.

Mr Dzhugashvili sued Novaya Gazeta, demanding £180,000 in damages.

In 2009, Mr Yablokov said the case would have been untenable in the past but that that it had becomes realistic following Kremlin attempts to rehabilitate Stalin’s image as a reliable leader.

He said at the time: “There is a change in society’s view of Stalin.

“We hear much more now about what an effective manager Stalin was, much more than in the 1990s, and much less about the repression.”

Mr Dzhugashvili’s father, Yakov, had a bad relationship with his father and shot himself because of Stalin’s disregard for him.

However, he survived and was later captured by the Germans during the Second World War.

Hitler offered him in exchange for field marshal Friedrich Paulus, who had surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad. Stalin refused.

Yakov’s children Yevgeny and Gallina died in a German concentration camp in 1943.

Mr Dzhugashvili served as a colonel in the Soviet and Russian air force and in 1999 stood for the state duma.

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