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Attitude of the citizens of Ukraine and Russia to Stalin

Press release by Liana Novikova

Press release of Levada Center can be viewed at this link.

On February 5-21, 2018, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion poll. Data were collected from 2043 respondents living in 110 settlements in all oblasts of Ukraine (except for the AR of Crimea) with the method of personal interviewing. The sample was stochastic, and it is representative of the population of Ukraine aged 18 and above. In Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts survey was conducted only in the territories that are controlled by the Ukrainian government.

The statistical sampling error (with a probability of 0.95 and for a design effect of 1.5) does not exceed: 3.3% — for indexes close to 50%, 2.8% — for indexes close to 25%, 2.0% — for indexes close to 10%, 1.4% — for indexes close to 5%.

“Levada-Center” conducted the poll in Russia on March 23-27, 2018, with the method of personal interviewing, with the sample of 1600 people aged 18 and above, living in 136 settlementsthat
  • Among the Ukrainians, the negative attitude toward Stalin is prevalent in general - 42% regard him with the hostility, fear or hatred, 30% are indifferent and 14% have a positive attitude (with respect, sympathy or admiration).
  • 28% of the population think agrees that Stalin was “a wise governor” (52% disagree with this), while 77% agree that Stalin is “a cruel, inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people”. Also, 60% of the population said that they do NOT believe that "our people will never be able to move on without a leader of the same type as Stalin, who will come and bring order." Three-quarters of the respondents indicated that they would not like to live and work in the country where the leader is someone like Stalin.
  • The Ukrainians are much worse about Stalin than the Russians (citizens of Russia). While % of the Ukrainians have a positive attitude to Stalin, in Russia these amount is almost three times bigger - 40%. Also, 28% of the Ukrainians and 58% of the Russians consider Stalin to be the wise leader who led the USSR to prosperity; the need for a leader of such type as Stalin feel 23 % of the Ukrainians and 33% of the Russians; also, 77% of the Ukrainians and only 44% of the Russians consider him to be a cruel, inhuman tyrant.

 

Among the population of Ukraine, the negative attitude towards Stalin and his role in history is more prevalent. Thus, about half of the citizens disagree with the definition of Stalin as either a wise leader who brought the USSR to power and prosperity or as a prototype of the leader, without whom people would not be able to get around. And the positive range of emotions in relation to Stalin (14%) is three times smaller than a negative one.

Stalin is more positively supported by the population of the Eastern region, older people, and people with (incomplete and complete) secondary education and low income.

Compared to 2012, in 2016, the positive attitude toward Stalin declined, and this recession continued in 2018. This is mainly due to a decrease in the proportion of those who respect Stalin (Table 5). By contrast, compared with 2016, in 2018, the negative and indifferent attitude towards him slightly increased (Table 6). The increase in the negative attitude was mainly due to an increase in the proportion of those who treat Stalin with fear (Table 5).

                                                                                                     

  • The emotional spectrum in the attitude of the Ukrainians to Stalin tends to the negative pole - 42% of respondents have defined their attitude toward him as "fear", or "hostility, irritation", or "disgust, hatred." Instead, the representatives of the older generation show the most respected to the head of the USSR (Graph 2), in particular, this attitude is popular among respondents aged 70 years and older - about 20%.
  • More than half of the population (57%) noted that they definitely would not like to work having such leader as Stalin. This attitudeis more characteristic of the Western and Central regions, as well as of the younger population (up to 49 years old) (Graph 3).
  • While 28% of the population as a whole think Stalin is a “wise leader”, in the Western region only 13% of the population think so, and in the East region - 48% (Table 1). 77% of the Ukrainians agree that Stalin was "a cruel, inhuman tyrant" (90% in the Western region); 23% of the Ukrainians agree that the Ukrainian people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin, who will come and set the order (relatively more respondents with this opinion reside in the Southern and Eastern regions (Table 1)).

 

As to the attitude to Stalin in different socio-demographic groups:

  • Considering age differences in relation to Stalin, the representatives of the older generation show more approval as a whole than the younger ones. For example, 32.5% of respondents over the age of 50 years identify Stalin as a wise leader, and also 27% of respondents in this age group agree with the notion that the people can not move on without such leader as Stalin (against 19% in the age group of 18-49 y.o.)

  • The Eastern and Southern regions have more positive emotional spectrum in the attitude to Stalin: 15-17% of respondents in these regions expressed their respect for Stalin. And while in the East 5% refers to Stalin with disgust, hatred, in the Western region this percentage is about 30%. In all regions, most respondents would not want to work with such a country leader as Stalin, but the most evident protest against such leader is in the Western region - 86%. In the Eastern region, Stalin is recognized as a wise leader more often than in other regions, in the West there is the biggest percentage of those who perceive him as a cruel tyrant (Table 1).

  • Also the attitude to Stalin varies depending on the level of the financial welfare of the respondent's family: a more positive attitude toward the head of the USSR is observed among the poorest sections of the population. Thus, the proportion of those who consider Stalin to be a wise leader among respondents with very low and low levels of income ranges from 30% to 33%, and among those with a middle and high income they are 20-25%. Similarly, respondents with a lower income background showed more respect for Stalin, the desire to work with such a leader, and agree with the statement that the people could not do without a leader like Stalin. While 75% of people with a low income say that Stalin is a cruel tyrant, among high-income people this opinion is supported by 85% of the respondents (Table 2).

  • As for the differentiation in education, the following trend can be traced: the higher the level of education of the respondent, the more negative it is to Stalin, he discovers. In particular, if 7% of the respondents with higher education regard Stalin with respect, then among the respondents with incomplete secondary education - twice as many. Conversely, among people with higher education, the greater part of those who regard Stalin with hostility or disgust. The higher the level of education of the respondent, the less his desire to work with such a leader and to express the need for such a leader for the people. In the end, if 84% of respondents with higher education agree with the assertion that Stalin is a cruel, inhuman tyrant, then 67-77% among other educational groups (Table 3).

  • As for the differentiation by education, the following trend can be traced: the higher the level of education of the respondent, the more negative attitude to Stalin he/she shows. In particular, while 7% of the respondents with higher education regard Stalin with respect, among the respondents with incomplete secondary education there are twice as many of them. Conversely, among people with higher education, the part of those who regard Stalin with hostility or disgust is bigger. The higher is the level of education of the respondent, the less he/she has the desire to work with such a leader and expresses the need for such a leader for the people. In the end, while 84% of respondents with higher education agree with the assertion that Stalin is a cruel, inhuman tyrant, among other educational groups there are 67-77% of those who hold this opinion (Table 3).

 

Attitude to Stalin among the population of Ukraine and Russia: a comparative aspect. In Ukraine, the negative attitude to Stalin's personality (42%), which has increased somewhat over the past two years, is more widespread, while in Russia, on the contrary, a positive attitude dominates, and the experiencing the negative feelings decreased (to 12%) compared with 2016. At the same time, the proportion of respondents who are neutral towards the leader or those who have not determined the answer are practically identical in both countries. Significant differences can be traced in the support of different opinions about Stalin (Graph 1). Among the Ukrainian population, there are significantly more of those who agree that "Stalin is a tyrant guilty of killing millions of innocent people" compared to the Russian population (77% against 44%). Instead, more than half of Ukrainians do not agree with the assertions that Stalin is a wise leader and that the people can not do without a leader of this type, while in Russia the proportion of disagreeing with these statements is 18% and 37% respectively.

Graph 1. Attitude to Stalin in Ukraine and Russia, % of respondents


Commentary of Karina Pipiia, “Levada center” expert, about the public opinion about Stalin in the Russian society:

“In the dynamics of the attitude of the Russians to Stalin it is possible to trace three periods: the domination of the negative perception (2001-2006), the domination of the indifferent attitude (2008-2012), and the dominance of the positive assessments (2014-2018). While at the beginning of measurements almost every second of the Russians treated Stalin negatively (the aggregate share of such feelings as "dislike", "fear" and "disgust" was 43%), in the period of 2008-2012 these opinions have not exceed a quarter of all thoughts about the leader. After 2014, negativist settings for Stalin began to be shared by about 17-20% of respondents, reaching in 2018 the minimum value - 12% of the sample as a whole.

The trend toward the increase of the share of the Russians with a positive or neutral attitude to Stalin (as opposed to a clear decline in negativism) is less stable and more cyclical. In 2001 the proportion of the Russians with a positive attitude (the sum of the three positions - "excitement", "respect" and "sympathy") was almost four times the proportion of the Russians with neutral perceptions, but by 2008, it is the indifference that began to prevail in the image of Stalin and then changed to positive estimates in March 2014. Previously, we have repeatedly noted that "post-Crimea consolidation" contributed to the reappraisal of many events and processes in the country's life".

 

Graph 2. Distribution of the answers to the question “What is your general attitude to Stalin?” by age, % of the respondents

Graph 3. Distribution of the answers to the question “Would you personally like to live and work having such state leader as Stalin?” by age, % of the respondents


Addition 1. Formulation of the questions from the questionnaire

 

And here are a few questions about Stalin whose figure continues to be controversial in our country

ST1. What is your general attitude toward Stalin? One answer, please. SHOW CARD ST1, ONE ANSWER.

With delight 1 I DO NOT KNOW WHO STALIN IS 8
With respect 2 DIFFICULT TO SAY 88
With sympathy 3 DENIAL FROM ANSWERING 99
Indifferent 4    
With hostility, irritation 5    
With fear 6    
With disgust, hatred 7    

 

ST2. Would you personally like to live and work having someone like Stalin as a state leader? ONE ANSWER

Rather yes 1 Probably no 3 DIFFICULT TO SAY 8
Probably yes 2 Rather no 4 DENIAL FROM ANSWERING 9

 

ST3. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about Stalin? (SHOW CARD ST3, READ ONE BY ONE, ONE ANSWER IN EACH ROW)

  Fully agree Rather agree Rather disagree Fully disagree DIFFICULT TO SAY DENIAL FROM ANSWERING
1. Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity 1 2 3 4 8 9
2. Stalin was a cruel and inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people 1 2 3 4 8 9
3. Our people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin who will come and set the order 1 2 3 4 8 9

 


TABLES

 

Table 1. Regional distribution of answers to the question To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about Stalin?: “1. Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity”, “2.Stalin was a cruel and inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people”, “3. Our people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin who will come and set the order”, % of respondents

Region Stalin was a wise leader Stalin was a cruel tyrant Impossible to move on without Stalin
Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial
Western 12.9 73.1 14.0 90.4 2.5 7.2 17.6 67.9 14.5
Central 27.9 49.8 22.3 75.2 10.0 14.8 20.2 63.5 16.2
Southern 35.2 39.0 25.8 64.4 14.2 21.4 28.5 51.4 20.0
Eastern 47.7 35.9 16.5 76.6 8.3 15.1 27.0 47.8 25.2
Ukraine in general 28.3 51.5 20.2 76.8 8.8 14.4 22.5 59.6 17.9

 

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about Stalin?: “1. Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity”, “2.Stalin was a cruel and inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people”, “3. Our people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin who will come and set the order” by the level of respondent`s income, % of respondents

Level of income Stalin was a wise leader Stalin was a cruel tyrant Impossible to move on without Stalin
Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial
Very low 32.7 49.4 17.9 74.6 13.8 11.5 29.9 56.9 13.2
Low 30.1 47.9 22.0 75.1 8.9 16.1 24.0 54.8 21.2
Middle 25.7 55.8 18.5 78.5 7.4 14.1 19.6 66.0 14.5
High 20.5 63.4 16.1 85.0 6.7 8.4 10.2 70.9 18.9

 

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about Stalin?: “1. Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity”, “2.Stalin was a cruel and inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people”, “3. Our people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin who will come and set the order” by the level of respondent`s education, % of respondents

Level of education Stalin was a wise leader Stalin was a cruel tyrant Impossible to move on without Stalin
Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial Agree Disagree Difficult to say/ Denial
Incomplete secondary 34.6 46.4 19.0 66.6 17.8 15.6 34.3 49.1 16.6
Secondary 30.0 48.1 22.0 72.5 10.7 16.8 24.5 56.1 19.4
Secondary special 26.7 50.4 22.9 76.6 7.4 16.0 22.0 57.8 20.2
Higher 26.7 57.2 16.1 83.6 6.0 10.4 18.0 67.5 14.5

 

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question “What is your general attitude toward Stalin? Give one answer, please” among the whole population, % of respondents

  %  
With delight 1 14%
With respect 10
With sympathy 3
Indifferent 29.5 29.5%
With hostility, irritation 13 42%
With fear 11
With disgust, hatred 18
I DO NOT KNOW WHO STALIN IS 2 16.5%
DIFFICULT TO SAY 13
DENIAL FROM ANSWERING 1.5
TOTAL 100 100%

 

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question “What is your general attitude toward Stalin? Give one answer, please” among the whole population by years, % of respondents

  2012,% 2016, % 2018, %
With delight 2 1 1
With respect 16 13 10
With sympathy 5 3 3
Indifferent 27 26 29.5
With hostility, irritation 15 13 13
With fear 8 8 11
With disgust, hatred 14 17 18
I DO NOT KNOW WHO STALIN IS 1 1 2
DIFFICULT TO SAY 11 17 13
DENIAL FROM ANSWERING 1 2 1.5
TOTAL 100 100 100

 

Table 6. Attitude to Stalin (enlarged scale) among the whole population by years, % of respondents

  2012,% 2016, % 2018, %
Positive 23 17 14
Indifferent 27 26 29.5
Negative 37 38 42
Denial, difficult to say 13 19 16.5
TOTAL 100 100 100

 

Table 7. Distribution of answers to the question Would you personally like to live and work having someone like Stalin as a state leader? among the whole population, % of respondents

Rather yes 2.4
Probably yes 8.9
Probably no 17.3
Rather no 57.3
Denial, difficult to say 14.1
TOTAL 100

 

Table 8. Distribution of answers to the question “What is your general attitude toward Stalin? Give one answer, please” among the population of Ukraine and Russia, % of respondents

  Opinion of the residents of Ukraine (KIIS, February 2018) Opinion of the residents of Russia (Levada Center, March 2018)
With delight 1 2
With respect 10 29
With sympathy 3 9
Indifferent 30 31
With hostility, irritation 13 7
With fear 11 3
With disgust, hatred 18 2
I DO NOT KNOW WHO STALIN IS 2 1
DIFFICULT TO SAY 15 16

 

Table 9. Distribution of answers to the question “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement about Stalin: “Stalin was a wise leader who led the USSR to power and prosperity”?” among the residents of Ukraine and Russia, % of respondents

  Opinion of the residents of Ukraine (KIIS, February 2018) Opinion of the residents of Russia (Levada Center, March 2018)
Fully agree 7 20
Rather agree 21 37
Rather disagree 19 10
Fully disagree 33 8
DIFFICULT TO SAY/DENIAL 20 25

 

Table 10. Distribution of answers to the question “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement about Stalin:Stalin was a cruel and inhuman tyrant who is guilty of killing millions of innocent people”?”, among the residents of Ukraine and Russia, % of respondents

  Opinion of the residents of Ukraine (KIIS, February 2018) Opinion of the residents of Russia (Levada Center, March 2018)
Fully agree 47 15
Rather agree 30 29
Rather disagree 6 18
Fully disagree 3 8
DIFFICULT TO SAY/DENIAL 14 29

 

Table 11. Distribution of answers to the question “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement about Stalin:Our people will never be able to move on without such leader as Stalin who will come and set the order”?”, among the residents of Ukraine and Russia, % of respondents

  Opinion of the residents of Ukraine (KIIS, February 2018) Opinion of the residents of Russia (Levada Center, March 2018)
Fully agree 7 9
Rather agree 16 24
Rather disagree 17 21
Fully disagree 42 16
DIFFICULT TO SAY/DENIAL 18 31

 

Regarding the commentary contact, please, Liana Novikova: l.novikova@kiis.com.ua, +38(093)4970764


10.4.2018
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