More than half a century after it occurred, Soviet citizens were told publicly for the first time that dictator Josef Stalin's boorish behavior drove his second wife to commit suicide.

Soviet citizens have long known privately that Stalin's wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, died of bullet wounds on a night in November 1932, but rumors of murder or suicide after a violent argument with Stalin have never been officially confirmed.The published report Wednesday that Stalin's wife killed herself came in an interview in the newspaper Moscovsky Komsolets with Mikhail Shatrov, author of a controversial play in which Stalin heaps abuse on another woman, the wife of the revered founder of the Soviet state, Vladimir Lenin.

"Out of the torrent of his obscenities I took those that could be published," Shatrov said, defending his portrayal of the scheming and brutal dictator.

"I do not know much about Stalin's treatment of wom-en," he said. "But we know about the suicide of his wife. We know that rudeness was always common to Stalin."

The report that Stalin's wife killed herself is the latest step in an official campaign of discrediting the late dictator officially accused of killing or imprisoning millions of Soviets during the 1930s and 1940s.

The article also revealed Shatrov's very personal interest in portraying the true character of the man now held responsible for current Soviet backwardness.

Shatrov's father was taken off to the Gulag labor camps in 1937 the height of Stalin's purge campaign, called the "Great Terror" and shot. His mother was arrested in 1949 and never seen again. He said of all his relatives, only one brother survived Stalin's purges.

Alliluyeva was married to Stalin in 1918, the year after Lenin's Bolshevik revolution catipulted the 39-year-old Georgian to national prominence. His first wife had died in 1905.