MOSCOW (AP) _ Leonid I. Brezhnev's grandson complained in an article published today that criticism of the late Soviet leader had turned into a smear campaign.

Andrei Brezhnev said his family should not be blamed for the mistakes made by the late Soviet leader.

The full-page article in the weekly Moscow News was a rare public defense of the man who served as Communist Party chairman and president in the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death in 1982.

Under Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the official press carries almost daily articles and letters criticizing Brezhnev for everything from the slump in the economy to his large collection of medals.

Brezhnev's son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov, is on trial in Moscow on charges of bribe-taking and abuse of office as a top Interior Ministry official under Brezhnev.

Andrei Brezhnev said the disgrace of his grandfather was hurting him. He is the son of Yuri Brezhnev.

''I'm 27 years old, and my independent life is only beginning, but I already feel that my surname ever more frequently has become a stumbling block in the most varied situations,'' the younger Brezhnev wrote. ''I am just like everyone, but many don't want to see anything in me except my surname.''

Brezhnev's grandson said he agreed with much of the criticism appearing now in the Soviet press of the former Soviet president and Communist Party chief, but that relatives should not share the blame.

He recalled that under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, relatives were arrested or shot simply because of their family ties with criminals.

''If you read now about the crimes of the 1930s, we remember the words: 'A son should not answer for his father,' then why do we forget them when speaking about the present day?''

Andrei Brezhnev also said some criticism was unjustified because it blamed his grandfather for mistakes made by aides.

Legends and rumors arose about Brezhnev's family, he said, because ''the private life of our leaders, their family irregularities and problems remain outside the direct attention of society, outside 'glasnost.'''

Glasnost, Gorbachev's policy of openness, has generally not been extended to reporting on the inner workings of the top government and party organizations or the personal lives of leaders.

''First and foremost Brezhnev himself became a victim of the absence of glasnost,'' Andrei Brezhnev said.

He said his aunt, Brezhnev's daughter Galina, helped bring down the family name because she was ''uncontrollable'' and didn't respect the law. She is married to Churbanov.

In its edition last week, Moscow News published an article by historian Roy Medvedev saying that Brezhnev was revived from ''clinical death'' in 1976. However, the article said the leader was left senile and so weakened that he had difficulty performing simply protocol duties for the last six years of his rule.

Medvedev also said that politically, Brezhnev ''didn't so much move ahead himself as he was moved ahead by others.'' Medvedev also criticized Brezhnev as a poor speaker and a vain, weak man.