According to a poll by the Levada Center, the enormous economic progress under Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin justified all the “sacrifices” made by Russians, including the genocide of his own people.
The independent center polled the same question two years ago, but only 25 percent agreed. The latest poll is up to 45 percent.
“If the prevailing attitude toward [Stalin] was negative at the start of the millennium, now a large proportion of respondents (39 percent) now evaluate him positively,” announced the Levada Center.
They also asked people if they thought Stalin’s death ended “mass repression and terror.” Only 46 percent said yes. While that number appears high, 56 percent answered yes only two years ago.
“[Stalin is being rehabilitated because] the current Russian authorities and [President Vladimir] Putin in particular seek the legitimization and justification of their actions by resorting to the past. It gives them a certain endorsement,” explained Alexei Levinson, the head of the Levada Center’s social and cultural studies department. “There are two consequences of that: On the one hand, the state might triumph in the further consolidation of its power. On the other hand, we are engaging in a conflict with the rest of the world and our regime will not last long under such pressure.”
Putin has previously expressed nostalgia for the former Soviet Union. He once said the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. In April 2014, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told NBC News that Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union. Putin’s actions have indicated Yatsenyuk might be on the right track. He invested unused Olympic funds to start a fitness program that dates back to the Soviet Union. Putin also praised the horrific Molotov-Robbentrop Pact in World War II. Russia’s Ministry or Education and Science purged thousands of “unsuitable” school textbooks from schools, eliminating the business of many book publishers. The only one left untouched was Soviet-era publisher Enlightenment, which is also owned by Putin’s close friend Arkady Rotenberg. Another example is Putin’s foul language law that bans profanity in the arts echoes of the Soviet days.
“It is a very alarming sign,” grieved Arseny Roginsky, the head of Memorial, an NGO. “It is telling not only in terms of attitudes to Stalin but in terms of the relationship between the individual and the state. Stalin is perceived as a symbol of a powerful and mighty nation, and the fact that he and all his policies were anti-human remains a secondary consideration.”
The Communist Stalin murdered more people than Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Georgian historian Roy Medvedev listed the atrocities committed under Stalin:
Medevedev’s grim bookkeeping included the following tragic episodes: 1 million imprisoned or exiled between 1927 to 1929; 9 to 11 million peasants forced off their lands and another 2 to 3 million peasants arrested or exiled in the mass collectivization program; 6 to 7 million killed by an artificial famine in 1932-1934; 1 million exiled from Moscow and Leningrad in 1935; 1 million executed during the ”Great Terror” of 1937-1938; 4 to 6 million dispatched to forced labor camps; 10 to 12 million people forcibly relocated during World War II; and at least 1 million arrested for various “political crimes” from 1946 to 1953.
Author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claims the number is closer to 60 million, while writer I.G. Dyadkin suggests the number is between 56 and 62 million, “with 34 to 49 million directly linked to Stalin.”
Stalin conducted the Great Purge between 1936 and 1940, which eliminated Communist Party and government officials Stalin viewed as a threat. Historians believe the numbers of deaths connected to the purge are between 680,000 to 1.2 million.
Then there was Holodomor, which means “extermination by hunger,” in Ukraine. Between 1932 and 1933, between 2.5 and 7.5 million people died due to a forced famine from Stalin intended to end the Ukrainian independence movement. Ukraine is dear to Russia since they consider Kyiv the birthplace of Russia. The regime received mass shipments of grain, but did not pass enough out to civilians. Stalin also forced Ukrainian farmers to participate in collectivization.
Stalin also developed the gulags for criminals and those who threatened his regime. Figures show that he imprisoned 10 million people between 1934 and 1947, but historians believe the number is higher. Officials believe 15 to as many as 30 million people died in the gulags from 1918 to 1956.