He may have murdered 20 million people, but good PR can change anything! A state news agency is approaching big firms to "rewrite history." No word yet on whether the team behind Eliot Spitzer are considering it.

British gossip email Popbitch pulled up a story today from an obscure European website with pretty compelling evidence that state-run news agency Ria Novosti is taking pitch meetings in Brussels and want someone to play up the good things that the paranoid, genocidal dictator did. Good 'ol Joe kind of thing. (Even Hitler liked dogs.)

The conversation between a representative of the state-run agency and a bemused PR guy went thusly, as per the report:

the aim... is to help portray Russia as a benign great power entitled to negotiate with the likes of the US, China and the EU on global security and energy issues.

He added that part of the PR effort would be to cast a positive light on the actions of the Soviet Union before and after World War II in order to justify the idea that modern Russia should also impose its influence on neighbouring countries for the good of the world.

A senior executive at the PR firm in question recalled one particular exchange with the ...envoy: "I asked him 'Do you want us to say that Stalin was not such a bad guy?' And he said 'Well, I know it will be difficult.' I said 'So, you want history to be rewritten?' And he said 'Yes, in a way'.

There is no word on whether any agencies bit and took the contract, but the source also says that we should expect to see more 'but Stalin also did good things' news stories soon. It's part of an existing campaign, say Russian journalists, to rehabilitate Stalin within the country. New school textbooks now refer to him as "an efficient manager". Which I suppose is technically true.