Half of Russians say Stalin’s repressions justified by results, double of 2012

A demonstration in Moscow (Photo: vedomosti.ru)

A demonstration in Moscow (Photo: vedomosti.ru) 

2015/03/31 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Forty-five percent of Russians now say that Stalin’s harsh repression was justified by the results he achieved as a result, a figure that is almost twice as high as in 2012, according to a new Levada Center poll. The same survey found that the share of Russians who believe that nothing justifies what Stalin did has fallen significantly.

As a result, only one Russian in four (25 percent) is either fully or partially opposed to the erection of statues and memorials to the Soviet-era dictator on the occasion of what Moscow will mark in May as the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.

Aleksey Grazhdankin, the Levada Center’s deputy director, says that “for the majority of respondents, the name of Stalin as before is connected with terror, but since the last decade there has been a growth in the share of those Russians who give a positive assessment to what Stalin did. It reached its highest level ever last year, he adds.

Part of the explanation for the increase in approval for Stalin, Grazhdankin suggests, is to be found in Russians’ assessment of the events in Ukraine. Seeing what instability can lead to, he says, many Russians are now “prepared to sacrifice the interests of a minority in order to preserve the current status quo and stability.”

Five years ago, 32 percent of the Russian sample said that Stalin was a criminal; now, only 25 percent do, and 57 percent say they oppose designating him as one. It isn’t that Russians love him, the Levada Center sociologist says. Rather, they see virtues in a strong leader when as they now think is the case and their country is surrounded by enemies.

Not surprisingly, Stalin is most positively viewed by the least educated, those living in villages and small cities and the elderly. Young people are largely indifferent to him, while the most antagonistic to Stalin are the middle-aged and the relatively well-off populations of the large cities, such as Muscovites.

Stalin remains a divisive force for many, Ivan Nikitchuk, a KPRF Duma deputy who wants to rename Volgograd Stalingrad, an idea that the Levada Center poll found is supported by 31 percent of its sample, says that when Russians compare their situation now with what it was under Stalin, they draw the “correct” conclusion that it was better then than now.

Nikolay Svanidze, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, in contrast, says that “the moral rehabilitation of Stalin which will intensify in advance of Victory Day would be a personal insult for millions of people.”

And Yabloko Party leader Sergey Mitrokhin says that the revival of support for Stalin reflects the failure of the country to undergo any “de-Stalinization” during the first two post-Soviet decades and consequently the Soviet dictator remains “an instrument” for some to resolve political tasks such as promoting a cult of a new leader, in the present case, Vladimir Putin.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • LorCanada

    All those Russians who approve of Stalin’s ruthless behaviour should be mighty thankful they did not live in the Stalinistic era ruled by fear and instant removal to the Gulags, death, or harm to one’s family members. It sounds like a living hell!

    • Czech Friend

      and that is the problem with that “country”. Their elites had been wiped out in many waves during their history. And Stalin perfected the mass murdering.

      Add emigration to the mix and what we are left with is what we see now shouting for Putin and against the West in Red Square.

      • LorCanada

        Yes, I quite agree. Most of the ‘intelligentsia’ were eliminated.

  • Jens A

    He lay the structure of the system that later went bankrupt. He was also responsible of the fact that the mighty Red Army could not even win over small Finland in the first place and that made Hitler as well as the generals that didn’t think they could defeat France, think that they easily could win over the Soviet Union. And they almost did BECAUSE of Stalin and Russia won IN SPITE of Stalin.

    As for the idea that GULAG help winning the war, that is pure nonsense. The highest number of prisoners during the time of Stalin, was AFTER the war. You cannot win a war using forced labor AFTER that war has ended. And yet, such nonsense is “common knowledge” in Putins wonderland. How can people live with such idiotic nonsense if they are of only close to average intelligence? I would feel it as a prison and I have promised myself never again to go there until Putin and his system is part of the past.

  • Dean Venture

    These people are either stupid and don’t understand what life is like under a regime wherein half a million are ‘purged’, or they place no value on the rule of law, security, or human rights. Another item suggesting people get the government they deserve. I pity the half that still thinks Stalin was a monster. I think they’re in for a rough ride.

    • Czech Friend

      it’s both actually

  • Kruton

    Stalin shot his second wife in the face,then went out to drink.

    • LorCanada

      What a monster!

      • Anton Chigurh

        Imagine that. The more you trash them, the more they will lean towards Stalin LOL.

        • LorCanada

          So what’s your problem?

          • Anton Chigurh

            Russia just rescued a bunch of you ungrateful poles from Yemen yesterday, They should have just left there there to die, you sorry tool

          • LorCanada

            Anton — Don’t be such an idiot. I am a CANADIAN, not Polish. Maybe you had too much vodka to drink. Sober up, laddie!

          • Anton Chigurh

            who would ever know.. you are sitting here spouting off about all kinds of topics and nations you know nothing about. Stick to Canadian local news items you fool

          • LorCanada

            From what I read of your posts, you don’t know much either except to insult the public and people you don’t even know, idiot!

          • Anton Chigurh

            Say thank you to Russia, you tool. Looks like they got your sorry butts out of Yemen as well:
            http://globalnews.ca/news/1921597/canadians-evacuated-from-yemen-foreign-affairs-confirms/

          • LorCanada

            You are off topic and off the rails!

      • Anton Chigurh

        You have little room to talk considering Canada’s policy regarding native americans. Tool

        • LorCanada

          Your opinion is too narrow to be of any use.

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    Its like a land filled with Homer Simpsons.