. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communists Pay Respects

ReutersCommunist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov adjusting a ribbon Wednesday on a wreath at Stalin's tomb at the Kremlin.
Russia marked the 50th anniversary of Josef Stalin's death Wednesday, with some mourning the man and others his victims in a country still divided over the Soviet dictator's legacy.

More than 3,000 Communist supporters joined party leader Gennady Zyuganov in a solemn procession to Stalin's grave next to the Kremlin wall on Red Square. Carrying Soviet flags, the mostly elderly mourners laid flowers beneath his bust. Some wept.

On the other side of the spectrum, human rights organization Memorial launched a web site Tuesday with "Stalin's lists" -- some 44,000 names of people tried for political offenses on Stalin's personal orders. The vast majority were put to death, according to Memorial. The site includes photographs of the original lists.

Considered a brutal tyrant in the West for political purges in which more than 10 million are believed to have died and for forced collectivization that wiped out the Russian peasantry, Stalin continues to be admired in the former Soviet Union -- even by many non-Communists -- for leading the country to victory in World War II and pulling it into the industrial age.

The pro-government daily Izvestia said the country has yet to come to grips with Stalin's legacy. "During perestroika there were heated debates: Was Stalin good or bad, a tyrant or a genius or a genius-tyrant?" the paper said in an editorial. "But instead of arriving at a new level of understanding of the Stalin era and its consequences for us, the country preferred to cut off the debates."

Meanwhile, Russian media reported that Stalin's great-grandson, Vissarion Dzhugashvili, was asking for asylum in the United States. They quoted the 37-year-old movie director as saying he was routinely threatened and insulted in his native Georgia for his last name, the same as the one Stalin was born with.