A brain illness has made Joseph Stalin, first General Secretary of the Soviet Union a more paranoid and ruthless dictator.
Alexander Myasnikov was one of the doctors called to Stalin's deathbed when the dictator fell ill in 1953, and, in diaries that have been kept secret up to now, he claimed that Stalin suffered from a brain illness that could have impaired his decision-making.
"The major atherosclerosis in the brain, which we found at the autopsy, should raise the question of how much this illness - which had clearly been developing over a number of years - affected Stalin's health, his character and his actions," The Independent quoted Myasnikov as writing in his diaries.
"Stalin may have lost his sense of good and bad, healthy and dangerous, permissible and impermissible, friend and enemy. Character traits can become exaggerated, so that a suspicious person becomes paranoid," the doctor wrote.
"I would suggest that the cruelty and suspicion of Stalin, his fear of enemies... was created to a large extent by atherosclerosis of the cerebral arteries," Myasnikov wrote in his diaries.
"The country was being run, in effect, by a sick man," Myasnikov added.
The excerpts have been published for the first time in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.