Nevsky Edges Out Stolypin In Finale of 'Face of Russia'

Alexander Nevsky, best-known for stopping the advance of the Swedes and Teutonic Knights into Russia in the 13th century, narrowly defeated 20th-century reformer and tsarist Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin in the "Face of Russia," a controversial seven-month contest on state-run Rossia television.

Nevsky, the prince of Novgorod and Kiev and grand prince of Vladimir, tallied 524,575 votes in the contest. He edged out Stolypin -- generally better known for having been murdered by a Russian terrorist than for his unfinished reforms -- who finished with 523,766 votes, cast by Internet and telephone. The contest is the Russian equivalent of the BBC program "Great Britons."

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin finished third, with 519,671 votes, while poet Alexander Pushkin finished fourth.

A total of more than 50 million votes were cast.

Launched in mid-May, the contest had already counted more than 20 million votes by August. But with Stalin just ahead of Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar, the tally was thrown out and the voting was restarted.

The producer of the contest, television host Alexander Lyubimov, said at the time that the results of the voting had been manipulated by computer hackers and that the new rules, which require registration on the contest's web site, would stop automated programs from voting repeatedly on the Internet.

The decision stirred an angry discussion in the Russian blogosphere, with many accusing the organizers of trying to manipulate the vote to prevent a controversial figure like Stalin or Nicholas II from being named the most significant personality in Russian history.

Nicholas II failed to reach the top 12 this time. Peter the Great and the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, both managed to make it into the final round of 12 personalities.