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Russia lower house approves WWII amnesty law

[JURIST] The Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] voted 437-0 Friday to approve a bill giving amnesty to veterans as well as concentration camp and Leningrad siege survivors for most crimes committed during World War II by. If approved in the upper house, the bill would apply [UPI report] to an estimated 100-200 persons, but the amnesty would not apply to crimes of murder or sexual crimes against minors. The legislative action commemorates [ITAR-TASS report] the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, as the period of the war along the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945 is known in Russia.

The legislative measure may be part of Russian efforts to rehabilitate the image of the Soviet Union. In October, a Russian historian who was researching Soviet treatment of German prisoners of war during World War II was charged [JURIST report] with violating privacy laws. Also in October, a Russian court rejected a libel suit [BBC report] brought by Stalin's grandson Yevgeny Dzhugashvili against the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta for a report that Stalin ordered the death of Soviet citizens. In September, critics of this rehabilitation expressed outrage when a renovated Moscow train station was unveiled with inscriptions praising Stalin [CNN report]. A controversial December 2008 poll found that Russians considered Stalin the third most popular Russian [BBC report] in history, a result criticized by many.

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