Defaming Uncle Joe: Stalin Family Sues Newspaper for Portraying Stalin as Stalinistic

stalinIt turns out that the correct meaning of ‘Stalinistic” is kind, family-oriented, and greatly loved. Or, at least that is the view expressed in a Russian court by Joseph Stalin’s grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili. (Stalin’s given name was Joseph Dzhugashvili). He is suing opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta for publishing declassified death warrants from the period and offering an unvarnished account of the atrocities under Stalin.

As we recently discussed with regard to an infamous column by the Toronto Star, the common law rule is that “you cannot defame the dead,” which of course means in practical terms that you can defame the dead. I have long been a critic of that rule, here.

Dzhugashvili insists that copies of the death warrants signed by Stalin are false and part of an ongoing effort to 140px-Stalin'schildrendefame and distort his memory.

Stalin has become a rallying point for people who feel that Russia has lost respect and that the general lifestyle in the nation has declined.

Of course, even if you can sue for defamation for a dead man, truth remains a defense. What is fascinating about this issue is that it deals with documents. Looking at this case from an American standpoint raises some interesting torts questions. In the United States, under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard, the family would have to prove knowing falsity or reckless disregard of the truth for a public figure. However, document cases are different. There is a separate privilege for reporting of public documents and reports. These are documents released by the Russian government itself. Of course, many of the Russian records from the Soviet period are met with some skepticism. However, these death warrants are consistent with every credible historical work showing Stalin to be a pathological and murderous tyrant.

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6 thoughts on “Defaming Uncle Joe: Stalin Family Sues Newspaper for Portraying Stalin as Stalinistic”

  1. We are talking about Russia, what atrocities were there? What has the US done to interfere with other governments? Of course nothing our hands are clean. What did the CIA or the OSS have to do with financing Hitlers restructuring of the previous governmental waste? Its all in selling your ideal better than the other guy.

    There reaches a certain point that no one is buying what you are selling. I do care who you are and what you are selling. Even the RCC has had to learn to sell it goods in a hotly contested market place. When selling slaves was profitable and the puritans found it reprehensible it was outlawed in merry ole England. Then the same folks came here to settle and founded this country upon freedom. The facts were other than what people themselves were willing to do and employed slaves to work to do things that they were to good to do themselves. Who the hell made a handsome profit off of these travels? The RCC in Rome they were the original teamsters in my mind. The controled every aspect of trade, of course some bounty went to the dynasty responsible for the trade.

    Ask the Mayans what they thought about the conquistadors. Love at first bite I am sure. The Aztecs were even turned into slaves and most of the records were burned. except for what has been able to be gleaned from records that were not, there existence would certainly be denied of ever being. I wish that the library that is kept under lock and key in Rome is opened to the public or at least scholars that could write what is kept in these catacombs.

    An interesting fact is that the US Library of congress is modeled after what is built in Rome. We had some fairly wise folks that utilized all aspects of various kinds of other governments. Too bad we don’t have people that are in power that are not afraid of doing things different.

    I can assure you I could write volumes of books based upon this subject. Why do you think people are so interested in the DaVinci Code and other things like the National Treasure I and II. We know that our very own government has kept thing secret from us. However some do not care and some have no interest and other are afraid of the wrath of disagreement. Even the Judiciary has turned to be a whore for the corporations and government excesses. Justification, Justification, Justification. What is right is not always so and what appears to be wrong may in fact be morally right.

    This reminds me of the Moody Blues:

    Cold hearted orb
    That rules the night
    Removes the colours
    From our sight

    Red is gray and
    Yellow white
    But we decide
    Which is right
    Which is an Illusion

  2. This case will be interesting to follow because it could tell us a lot about the condition of press freedom in Russia today. If the case goes to trial, will the defense be permitted to introduce evidence of Stalin’s atrocities in support of their assertion that the published death warrants are authentic? Will Stalin’s family eventually conclude that it would have been wiser to count on the public’s short term memory and ignore the stories? Or will a portion of the Russian public, longing for the security and stability of the old police state, rise in support of the Stalin family?

  3. Well and they may just win, in Russia as well as the USA truth is not always a defense. Let me recount some person of notable interest, Oliver North who was at the center of national attention during the Iran-Contra affair, a political scandal of the late 1980s. North was a National Security Council member involved in the clandestine sale of weapons to Iran, which served to encourage the release of U.S. hostages from Lebanon. North formulated the second part of the plan: diverting proceeds from the arms sales to support the Contra rebel group in Nicaragua. North was charged with several felonies, but the charges were later dismissed in 1991.


    Charges later dismissed? Bullshit. He was convicted after Reagen and Bushshit the First, testified under oath “I cannot recall”

    “He was fired by President Reagan later that month. Under a grant of immunity he testified before Congress in July, 1987. He was convicted (1989) on criminal charges arising from the affair, but his conviction was later reversed on the grounds that immunized testimony had been used at his trial.”


    So with my faith in the Russian Government and the US. I would surmise that the grandson has a great chance at revisionist history.

    Remember History is the last persons standing word of what happened. Ah this brings me to the story of Atlantis. . . . .

  4. I heard about this yesterday and I believe it raises profound issues. Evidently there is a general resurgence of “love” for Stalin in Russia because he was a “strong” leader when the USSR was powerful.

    I believe this type of thinking is common to most of humanity at times of crisis. It seems we want a strongman to come in and make everything “right” again. I believe this is currently occurring on both the left and right in the US. It is a dangerous tendency that we must fight within ourselves.

    This case is also about a grandson who seems to want his grandfather to be a person he simply was not. It would be difficult to realize your grandfather engaged in mass murder. We all have friends, family, or people we look up to, that when we find out they have done (or are doing) something very wrong, we have difficulty coming to terms with that fact. But we must, as must Stalin’s grandson.

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