Interfax: Poll: Almost a quarter of Russians regard Stalin’s death as loss of leader, teacher

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – April 1, 2015)

Thirty-one percent of the respondents want Volgograd to be renamed to Stalingrad, and 69 percent are against.. Source: AFP / East News

The attitude of Russians to Joseph Stalin has transformed in the past 15 years: the number of respondents who dislike or are disgusted by him has dropped from 27 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2015, and the number of people fearing him is down from 16 percent to 6 percent over the same period, a source in the Levada Center told Interfax.

The share of indifferent respondents has grown, from 12 percent in 2001 to 30 percent. The Levada Center polled 1,600 people in 134 populated areas in 46 regions between March 20-23.

“The negative attitude to this person [Stalin] prevailed in the early 2000s, but now most people (38 percent) have positive sentiments, including 30 percent who respect him, 7 percent who like him and 2 percent who admire him,” Levada Center expert Karina Pipia told Interfax on Tuesday.

The attitude to Stalin differs depending on the age, place of residence, education and consumer status of respondents, she said.

“Half of the younger generation is indifferent, and elderly respondents (43 percent) tend to respect Stalin. Negative feelings amongst Muscovites are five times more frequent than they are amongst villagers. The number of affluent respondents disliking Stalin is four times larger than that amongst the poor. Forty-three percent of Russians with primary education have respect for Stalin, and the number of such respondents in the higher education group is practically twice smaller,” Pipia said.

The newspaper Kommersant wrote on March 19 that the Communists were planning to commemorate Stalin with monuments, memorial plaques and renaming of streets in Russian cities on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of victory in WWII. A poll conducted by Levada Center showed that 37 percent of Russians felt positive about a monument, 25 percent were negative, and 29 percent did not care. Ten percent were hesitant.

“Groups exhibiting the most positive attitude to Stalin [people aged 55 or older, with primary education, the poor, and villagers] mostly support the idea of a Stalin monument. The most negative attitude is demonstrated by Muscovites (50 percent against),” Pipia said.

Thirty-one percent of the respondents want Volgograd to be renamed to Stalingrad, and 69 percent are against.

Forty-six percent of Russians associate Stalin’s death with the end of terror and mass repressions (55 percent in 2013). The opinion is most common in Moscow (68 percent) and cities with more than 500,000 residents (54 percent).

Twenty-four percent see his death as the loss of a great leader and teacher (18 percent two years ago). The opinion is mostly supported by villagers (29 percent) people in cities with a population up to 100,000 (30 percent), Russians older than 55 (34 percent), people with primary education (34 percent), and people with low income (29 percent).

Twenty-seven percent of the respondents were undecided.

On the whole, the share of Russians who think that sacrifices made by the Soviet people in the Stalin era were excused by great goals and achievements has grown from 25 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2015. Forty-one percent argued that the sacrifices had no excuse (60 percent in 2012).

“Muscovites (64 percent) and Russians with a higher income (66 percent) believe that no achievements, even those that have a great goal, can be an excuse for sacrifices,” Pipia added.

The number of Russians who see Stalin as a state criminal has also reduced, from 35 percent in 2010 to 32 percent. “Yet the opinion of Muscovites, affluent Russians and people with higher education differs drastically: 51 percent, 62 percent and 33 percent of them, respectively, think that Stalin must be declared a state criminal,” the sociologist said in conclusion.