Russians rank Stalin as the 'most outstanding' person

An opinion poll shows that a majority of Russians think Soviet leader Josef Stalin was the "most outstanding person" in history.

The survey by the Levada Center released Monday said 38 percent chose Stalin, in a stark contrast to just 12 percent in 1989 when Russians were beginning to discover the crimes of the Stalin regime. The poll of 1,600 people has a 3.4-percent margin of error.

Scholars estimate that under Stalin more than 1 million people were executed in political purges. Millions more died in the vast prison camp system or as a result of mass starvation and deportations.

But an increasing number of Russians now admire Stalin as a strong leader who led their country to victory in World War II.