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Russians favor authoritarian leaders - poll

by Anna Arutunyan at 22/05/2013 13:43

Some of Russia’s most authoritarian leaders are the most popular, according to a recent poll by the Levada Center, with Leonid Brezhnev, Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin leading the list.

By contrast, reformers like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin were the most disliked, according to the poll, published Wednesday in the Kommersant daily.

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled from 1964 until his death in 1982, came in first with 56 percent of respondents saying they had a positive view of him. Brezhnev was associated with a tightening of political repressions after the thaw of his predecessor, Nikita Khrushchev. He was also associated with what is widely referred to as an era of stagnation on the one hand, and stability on the other.

Stalin, who oversaw one of the most repressive periods in Russia’s history, followed with 50 percent of respondents viewing him favorably. “Although no one would want to live in the Stalin era, he stands for what’s lacking today – justice and equality in fear,” Kommersant quoted Valery Solovei, a professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, was viewed favorably by 48 percent of respondents.

By contrast, 66 percent viewed Gorbachev negatively (for Yeltsin that number was 64 percent), a figure that experts linked with the breakup of the Soviet Union which he oversaw.

Experts pointed to a trend where harsh, authoritarian leaders were viewed more favorably than those who ruled during periods of increased freedom.

“Associating [President Vladimir] Putin with Brezhnev is not dishonorable for the government,” Solovei added.

 

 

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