The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint by the grandson of Josef Stalin over a Russian newspaper article that called the Soviet dictator a "bloodthirsty cannibal."

The article appeared in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta in 2009. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili then filed a defamation suit against the newspaper in a Russian court, which ruled against him.

Dzhugashvili took the issue to the European court, claiming the Russian court's decision violated his right to respect for private and family life.

But a court statement on Thursday said there is distinction between private life and criticism of public figures and that Stalin "inevitably remain(s) open to public scrutiny and criticism."