A leading Soviet historian said Friday that revolutionary Leon Trotsky should be exonerated of criminal charges nearly 50 years after he was driven from the Soviet Union, reviled as a traitor to socialism and murdered.

"We have to rehabilitate all those people who were repressed and who were accused on false evidence, and all those accused must be rehabilitated," said Yuri Afanasyev.Afanasyev, in one of the boldest proposals to date in the campaign for greater openness, also called for publication in the Soviet Union of Trotsky's works, which have been banned.

Exonerating him of criminal charges would be a major step toward the rehabilitation of early Soviet leaders killed by Josef Stalin.