Stalin-era killings 'unjustifiable'

MOSCOW: The killing of millions during Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's rule cannot be justified, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on his blogsite early Friday, warning against any attempt at revisionism.

"I am convinced that the memory of national tragedies is as sacred as those of victories," Medvedev said, calling the "repression" and the purges during the 1930s "one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history."

He dismissed apologists' claims that the "extermination" was necessary for the "higher objectives of the state," saying: "Nothing can be more important than a human life.

"Nothing can justify repression," he added, pledging to back the fight "against the falsification of our history."

There have been fierce arguments between Russian liberals and conservatives about the legacy of a dictator responsible for the death and imprisonment of millions in the Soviet Union's notorious gulag prison system.

But while his brutality has been well documented, many Russians still associate his rule with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and remain sympathetic to him.

Under former president Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, Moscow has been downplaying Stalin's crimes in a bid to boost patriotic feelings, praising him as an effective manager and wartime leader.

But in May this year, Medvedev warned against whitewashing history.