MOSCOW -- Hundreds gathered on Moscow's Red Square to mark the 66th anniversary of Josef Stalin's death, in an event that was disrupted briefly by protesters decrying the glorification of the Soviet dictator.
The annual commemoration event, organized by the Communist Party, was held on March 5 at Stalin's tomb under the Kremlin wall.
The gathering was disrupted briefly when two activists threw broken carnations at Stalin's bust by his grave and shouted: "Burn in hell, executioner of people, murderer of women and children!"
Police officers immediately detained the activists, Yevgeny Suchkov and Olga Savchenko, who were released later in the day.
Meanwhile, several elderly people gathered dozens of meters from the commemoration event to urge President Vladimir Putin to stop Stalin's "glorification" across the country.
The participants said their parents had been jailed or killed under Stalin's regime.
Stalin died on March 5, 1953 at the age of 74. Millions of people were executed or sent to Gulag labor camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan during his Great Terror in the 1930s.
During World War II, members of several ethnic groups, including elderly people, women, and children, were deported to Central Asia based on allegations that they had collaborated with Nazi Germany.
After his release from detention, Suchkov told Current Time: "I believe that this is an inexhaustible, severe, moral disease, when people worship the idol of the executioner, who also eliminated -- directly or indirectly -- their ancestors. It is sad to see."
"When you see evil and remain indifferent, when you are not even commenting on it, I think that you are complicit in the evil," he added.
Historians and Kremlin critics say that under President Putin, the Russian authorities have sought to play down Stalin's crimes and promote him as "a successful manager" and "a great leader."