Igor Stepanov, who formerly worked in the special investigations unit of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, is making multiple simultaneous attempts to spur criminal charges against Joseph Stalin, Kommersant reported.
Multiple members of Stepanov’s family were victims of the Stalinist repressions, and the former investigator is now seeking a judicial response to the mass imprisonment, forced labor, and executions that occurred on the Soviet dictator’s orders. Stepanov has submitted requests for criminal charges to Russia’s Investigative Committee and to his former workplace, the Prosecutor General’s Office.
According to top experts from the Memorial human rights center, this is the first time any such requests have been brought forward in Russian history. Nikita Petrov, the deputy chair of the organization’s advisory board, emphasized that Stalin’s crimes as General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party have never been subject to prosecution, whether through a citizen’s request or by any other means. Human rights advocates estimate that up to 12 million people may have been imprisoned or killed in the Stalinist repressions, with more than 700,000 being killed in the years 1937-1938 alone.
Stepanov told Kommersant that his request to the Investigative Committee has been redirected to the agency’s Moscow branch while the Prosecutor General’s Office redirected him to its division in the Ivanovo region. That division found no grounds for pursuing a procedural probe, let alone a criminal case, leading Stepanov to appeal to Russia’s federal Constitutional Court. He has said he is prepared to take his case to the European Court for Human Rights if necessary.