Rudolf Nureyev was of sound mind when he decided to give $7 million to his Chicago-based dance foundation, a judge ruled in rejecting efforts by relatives of the dancer to get the money.

"Rudolf Nureyev was a strong-willed person who dared to defy a government," U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said Thursday. "He was not a person who could be manipulated or unduly influenced and this remained true even near the end."The ruling was a victory for the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation, which brought the dispute to court to get a declaration that it controls the $7 million U.S. portion of the dancer's $21 million estate.

Nureyev died of AIDS in 1993 at age 54. The judge noted the testimony of close friends, including Charles Jude, the star of the Paris Opera Ballet, who said Nureyev thought his name would be immortalized if he gave all his money to dance.