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The approval rate of Joseph Stalin has outdone the disapproval rate for the first time since the break up of the Soviet Union, data published by the sociometric Levada Center shows.
In March 2019, 77 percent of those polled said they have considered Uncle Joe a national hero, rather than a national disgrace.
Meanwhile, the number of Russians who believe that the murdering of tens of millions of Soviets during Stalin’s rule should be incriminated to him dropped from 60 percent in 2008 to 45 percent today.
In general, Levada study says, there are three distinct periods regarding popular attitude to Stalinism in the country. Until approximately 2006, negative attitude dominated the public opinion in Russia, with public stances becoming increasingly apathetic between 2006-2014.
Finally, after 2014, the number of Russians who see Stalin positively has won majority. Although local experts attribute the change of the tide to the post-Crimean syndrome – nostalgia for Stalin times has been a multi-layer phenomenon, says Yuri Pivovarov, an academician and director of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“The first layer is, of course, psychological. People naturally tend to see their youth as the best time in their lives, so they overlook the objective situation and historical context”, he said.
Pivovarov recalls how his mother remembered the 1930s mostly as the years when the young people dated her, but her recollection of mass hunger, and political repressions were quite blurred.
In modern Russia, a new cult of Stalin has been growing stronger because of a growing population of individuals much like Pivovarov’s mother (and much younger), who see the dictator as a guarantor of order and justice – the things they are thirsty for now, says director of the All-Russia Center for Measuring Living Standards Vyacheslav Bobkov.
“People compare the country in its prime to the current period. What they see around now, is shameless corruption, loss of respect to Russia in the world. All that hurts their national proud”, he says.
In March 2018, a member of the Russian Senate Lyudmila Narusova proposed a bill that had equated the allegiance to Stalinism to that of Nazism – already a crime in Russia. She was immediately bulldozed by various groups for her “blasphemous” attempt and had to withdraw the bill.
One of those who criticised Narusova was a fringe, but noisy, leftist party called the Communists of Russia, which openly presents itself as Stalinist. The party’s leader, Maxim Suraikin, firmly believes that the Stalin era was the best time during one thousand years of Russian history.
“When we come to power we’ll erect monuments to Stalin in every town and name streets after him”, Suraikin promises.
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