Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 16:43 UK

Russia seizes Stalin-era research

By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Moscow

Joseph Stalin (file image)
Joseph Stalin didn't trust Russia's ethnic German population

A Russian academic investigating the fate of ethnic Germans deported by Stalin during World War II has had his research seized by security services.

History professor Mikhail Suprun was briefly arrested in the far north of Russia last month, but the incident has only now come to light.

Prof Suprun told the BBC he has been ordered not to comment on the case.

Thousands of ethnic Germans were sent to remote areas far from the war front after Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.

Although they had lived in southern Russia for generations - mostly along the River Volga - Soviet leader Joseph Stalin did not trust them.

Prof Suprun had managed to track down the files of 5,000 deportees and had interviewed hundreds of their descendents.

But now the documents he had collected over 10 years, his computer and all his hard drives have been seized by the FSB - the powerful successor to the KGB.

Although he has been ordered not to comment on the case, a few days ago he described the seizure as absurd.

He said it was part of a Russian government attempt to control how the history of World War II is told.

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