Owner of Stalin museum killed in Russia

Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:00pm EDT
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian businessman who set up a museum dedicated to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was electrocuted and bludgeoned to death on Friday, media reported.

Vasily Bukhtiyenko set up the Stalin museum in 2005 in Volgograd, previously called Stalingrad, about 560 miles southeast of Moscow.

"He was resting at a tennis court. That is where the murder happened," state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted a spokeswoman for regional investigators as saying.

Police said a motive for the attack was unclear at present.

Volgograd newspaper "Pervaya Gazeta" reported that Bukhtiyenko was attacked by three men with electric shock devices and then repeatedly hit on the head, it said on its site pro-volgograd.ru. The 1942-43 battle of Stalingrad between Nazi and Soviet troops during World War Two was considered a major turning point in the war, and Russians still mark the German defeat with enormous pride and sentimentality today.

As Moscow prepares for its enormous 65th anniversary of May 9, known as Victory Day, an intra-government dispute over some efforts to rehabilitate Stalin has been brewing.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>People propose a toast, standing around a portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, in Stalin's hometown of Gori some 80 km (50 miles) west of Tbilisi March 5, 2010. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili</p>