I thought today's proceeding was another hearing in the case, but it turns out the judge was ready to announce his decision. That decision: it is indeed fair to say that Joseph Stalin was a bad guy.
The judge found that the newspaper Novaya Gazeta did not libel the dictator, or his grandson, by publishing an article saying that Stalin was a dictator who personally signed the death warrants of thousands of people, among other unfriendly acts. The article also called him a "bloodthirsty cannibal." I think that is only half true, but really it is hard to see any way in which you could ever say something that would actually defame Joseph Stalin, who along with Hitler and Kid Rock must be in the top three on anybody's list of undefamable people.
The plaintiff apparently claimed, among other things, that the Soviet Union and Stalin were not responsible for the Katyn massacre of Poles in 1940 (which even the Soviet Union finally admitted); that there was no Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939 (which no one seriously disputes); and that, as his lawyer put it, "[a] lot of evidence is emerging that Stalin was our country's first democrat" (which is complete bullshit). Plaintiff's attorneys said that the judge's rejection of these claims showed that he had "decided this case in advance," and suggested that plaintiff would probably appeal.
The report noted that Russia's current leaders, Vladimir Putin and Dimitri Medvedev, "have mostly avoided open praise or criticism of Stalin, but have bristled at any effort to equate him with Hitler." Like I said, there is at least some room for argument over those top three spots.
Link: AP via Yahoo! News