Pravda Friday acknowledged for the first time in decades that Leon Trotsky played a key role in the Russian Revolution and defense of the young Soviet state, but it said Vladimir Lenin considered him a "Judas."

For decades, Trotsky's name has been virtually banned from the Soviet state-run press and his role in creation of the world's first socialist state virtually wiped from the historical record.The Pravda article, an excerpt from a biography of Josef Stalin being written by Col. Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov, described Trotsky in language that, during Stalin's rule, might well have cost its author his life.

"Being quite a gifted publicist, speaker and organizer, Trotsky played a well-known role in the October armed uprising and eventually in the Civil War years when he was people's commissar for military and naval affairs and chairman of the Revolutionary Council," the article said.

The words used to describe Trotsky would have been unimaginable in the pages of the Communist Party daily as little as a year ago.

Although recognizing Trotsky's abilities and his deeds on behalf of the revolution, the article pointedly noted that Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, had called Trotsky a "Judas" in 1911, a reference to the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

The headline of the full-page Pravda article called Trotsky "the demon of the revolution," indicating that a full-blown return to official favor is unlikely.