Sunday, August 11, 2019

Former Russian Investigator Seeks to Bring Criminal Charges Against Stalin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 8 – For the first time ever, the Memorial Human Rights Center says, a Russian citizen is making a concerted effort to bring criminal charges against Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin for his crimes against the population that are estimated to have led to the imprisonment or death of as many as 12 million people.

            Moscow’s Kommersant reports that Igor Stepanov, a former special investigator for Russia’s Procurator General and someone whose family members were victims of Stalin’s crime, has submitted multiple requests to his former employer and to Russia’s Investigative Committee (

            Both of these institutions have sent his request to their regional offices, the first to Moscow and the second to Ivanovo Oblast; and both of those have refused to open an investigation.  As a result, Stepanov has appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court and announced that he will appeal further to the European Court if that venue also rejects his case.

            Two things are interesting about this case. On the one hand, it shows that despite the ever more positive view many Russians have about the Soviet dictator, there are Russians who don’t share that position but remember that Stalin was hardly the hero he is for many, including Vladimir Putin.

            And on the other, this case highlights the increasing willingness of Russians to make use of their country’s court system to seek redress, confident that even though they may not be able to win through there, they can attract attention both to the issue they are concerned about and to the politicization of the Russian courts and can appeal to the European Court in the last instance.

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