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Stalin sees a surge in popularity - survey

Vladimir Lenin and Joseph StalinStalin is becoming ever more popular, and almost half of Russia's population is opposed to any de-Stalinisation project as the dictator's mystique grows ever more potent.

A poll commissioned by VTsIOM showed that more than a quarter of people feel that Stalin's wartime leadership means he did "more good" for the country ­ up 11 per cent from 2007.

Meanwhile the proportion which believes his reign of terror was an unacceptable price for the USSR's rapid growth as a military and industrial power has fallen to 24 per cent ­ down 9 per cent.

Creeping Stalinism?

The moustachioed generalissimo's legacy is rarely more divisive than in the run-up to Victory Day, when the authorities annually wrestle with the question of how to commemorate the Great Patriotic War without too strong a focus on Stalin.

Last year's on-going row over commemorative posters featuring the controversial leader highlighted the fascination he exerts even now, more than half a century after his death.

Meanwhile the Moscow Metro has also come under fire after restoring an entrance to Kurskaya station and reinstating texts from the Soviet-era national anthem which praise Stalin for building up a great nation.

But efforts to purge the communist icon from the history books are not popular with the public.

According to VTsIOM's poll, reported in Moskovskiye Novosti, 45 per cent say that destalinisation is not needed, and that such "empty words" would restrict freedom of speech and make Russia's historical understanding too one-sided.

A further 26 per cent felt that attempting to banish Stalin would mean Russia could not move on and successfully develop without realising the mistakes of the past.


The poll is not the first evidence that Stalin's era is remembered increasingly fondly. A 2008 TV poll saw him come within a whisker of claiming the title "Name of Russia", before losing out narrowly to Alexander Nevsky and Peter Stolypin in a vote to pick the most eminent Russians of history.

And some say the totalitarian nostalgia ­ which even among United Russia members runs at 39 per cent, according to the poll ­ reflects a growing anger with modern-day woes.

Valery Khomyakov, head of the National Strategic Council, told MN: "There is increasing dissatisfaction with the current authorities, and then there is this image of Stalin who pulled out an avenging sword and exiled thieving officials to Magadan.

"It is not about Stalin's popularity, it's about a murmur of public protest."

And Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Centre of Political Technologies, agreed.

"Stalin becomes a popular image of the ascetic patriot at a time when there is a wave of discontent over corruption," he said. "In 2007, while incomes were growing, people were willing to forgive government inefficiency and corruption, but now there are more demanding.

"Stalin, to them, is a symbol of authority: harsh and brutal, but patriotic and non-corrupt."

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