Joseph Stalin’s grandson found dead

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One of the grandsons of Soviet leader Josef Stalin has been found dead in the Russian capital Moscow, ambulance officials say.

The body of Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, 80, was found close to his home in the city. The cause of death is unclear.

Mr Dzhugashvili was an outspoken defender of his grandfather’s legacy, frequently using the courts to do so.

In 2015 he lost a case relating to the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish prisoners at the European Court of Human Rights.

The court rejected a complaint brought by Mr Dzhugashvili over an article accusing the Soviet leader of being a “bloodthirsty cannibal”.

Published in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the article said Soviet leaders including Stalin were “bound by much blood” by ordering the execution of about 20,000 Polish prisoners of war at Katyn.

Mr Dzhugashvili argued that the article blackened his grandfather’s reputation and was defamatory. He took his case to the European court after various courts in Russia threw it out.

He also argued that the Soviet Union would not have gone downhill if his father lived longer. More recently he accused President Putin of being “without brains”.

Western biographies of Stalin record three children – Yakov by his first wife Ekaterina and a son and a daughter – Vasily and Svetlana – by his second wife Nadezhda.

Both sons are dead. Svetlana defected from the Soviet Union in 1966 and died in 2011 in the US.

Stalin was thought to have at least eight grandchildren.

Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. Holding the post of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he was effectively the dictator of the state.

Stalin was one of the seven members of the first Politburo, founded in 1917 in order to manage the Bolshevik Revolution, alongside Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Sokolnikov, and Bubnov. Among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the party’s Central Committee in 1922.

He managed to consolidate power following the 1924 death of Vladimir Lenin by suppressing Lenin’s criticisms (in the postscript of his testament) and expanding the functions of his role, all the while eliminating any opposition.

He remained General Secretary until the post was abolished in 1952, concurrently serving as the Premier of the Soviet Union from 1941 onward.