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Stalin’s grandson seeks restored legacy
He reveres grandfather as a powerful leader

SHARE Stalin’s grandson seeks restored legacy
He reveres grandfather as a powerful leader

MOSCOW -- From certain angles, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili bears a chilling resemblance to the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. His mustache is thinner and his eyes less penetrating, but it's easy to understand why he was once chosen to play Stalin on film.

Nor is it any coincidence: Dzhugashvili is Stalin's grandson.A retired Soviet army colonel who spent most of his life in history's shadows, Dzhugashvili has now set forth on a quixotic -- and, most people would say, disturbing -- quest: to revive his grandfather's legacy.

To that end, he has helped create a Stalin Bloc of political extremist groups, and has been speaking at angry rallies of nationalists and communists, many brandishing portraits of his grandfather.

"I've always been proud of Stalin," Dzhugashvili, 63, said in an interview this week in Moscow. "And when they started to insult him and launched a slander campaign, if I'd had a gun I would have killed those people."

On Friday, Dzhugashvili joined about 300 other neo-Stalinists in Stalin's hometown of Gori, Georgia, to mark the 46th anniversary of the dictator's death, on March 5, 1953.

Such rallies are held annually in Georgia. Similar groups hold frequent demonstrations in Russia, where a small fringe movement of neo-Stalinists has tried to gain leverage from Russia's economic crisis and reclaim the Kremlin.

Few people knowledgeable about Russian politics believe a new Stalin is to be found in this ragtag collection of extreme nationalists, anti-Semites and radical communists.

To many Russians, Stalin remains a loathsome figure who ruled by terror and killed millions of his own people. But a sizable minority of mostly older people still revere him as the man who built the Soviet Union into a superpower and presided over its victory in World War II.

Dzhugashvili adheres to the latter view.

Told that many people in the former Soviet Union despise his grandfather's memory, he bristled.

"Your information is wrong," he said coolly. "Stalin is not hated. He is loved. Stalin is hated only by the authorities. Why? Because only swindlers take high-ranking posts now. . . . Ordinary people say, 'We would like to have Stalin back."'

Dzhugashvili is one of eight Stalin grandchildren, and his is an especially tragic legacy.

He still uses the Georgian surname that was Stalin's family name, and lives in Tbilisi, Georgia, not far from Gori.

His father was Yakov Dzhugashvili, Stalin's oldest son, whose mother died when he was an infant.

Yakov is best known as the Stalin son who was captured by the Germans during World War II. Germany offered Stalin a swap -- Yakov in exchange for a high-ranking German POW. The Soviet leader adamantly refused, regarding his son as a traitor for having fallen into enemy hands. Yakov died in a German prison camp, an apparent suicide.