MOSCOW (AFP) - A majority of Russians admire the leadership of Joseph Stalin, a poll showed Friday amid renewed controversy over the reputation of the wartime Soviet leader 130 years after his birth. Fifty-four per cent of Russians gave a positive assessment of Stalins leadership qualities while eight per cent gave a low assessment, according to the poll for the Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM). Thirty-seven per cent say they have a positive attitude towards Stalin while only 13pc express a dislike of the former Soviet leader, whose 130th birthday will be marked by his supporters on Monday. The poll reflects the continued appeal of Stalin in modern Russia where liberal historians have long lamented that the magnitude of his crimes have for too long been a taboo subject. While millions of Soviet and other citizens perished in the prison camps set up under Stalin, he remains a figure of admiration for Russians for leading the Soviet Union to victory in World War II. Last year, the Georgian-born strongman even came a close third in a television poll for the greatest Russian ever. Surprisingly, 28pc of Russians say they are indifferent about Stalin with the figure particularly high among young people at 38pc. But 58pc say they do not see a need for Russia to have a leader like Stalin at the current time. In a rare move, President Dmitry Medvedev in October condemned the mass killings under Stalin, saying, the memory of national tragedies is as sacred as those of victories. The poll questioned 1,600 people in 140 locations in Russia in early December.