Back in the U.S.S.R.? Poll suggest half of Russians lament Soviet Union’s collapse

A Russian communist holds a red flag during commemorations for the 92st death anniversary of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin near his mausoleum on the Red square in Moscow, Russia, 21 January 2016. Yuri Kochetkov, EPA/The Canadian Press

A new poll found a majority of Russians wouldn’t mind a return to Soviet rule, more than two decades after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

The poll by the Levada Center, a non-government research organization and pollster, found 56 per cent of Russians surveyed don’t feel the collapse of the U.S.S.R. benefitted Russia. Fifty-eight per cent said they would like to see the Soviet Union rebuilt.

But, in breaking down those numbers, most of the 58 per cent of respondents who favoured rebuilding the Soviet system didn’t actually see that a realistic option — 44 per cent said it was currently unrealistic, 14 per cent said it was real option.

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According to Kremlin-backed media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today), this is the highest this sentiment has been in the past five years. Although, citing a press release, RT reported the reminiscing about the Soviet days was at its highest in 2000, when 75 per cent of people polled expressed their longing for the Soviet Union.

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Levada surveyed 1,600 people between March 25 to 28.

The Levada Center is a well-known polling organization that has regularly gauged the views of the Russian public when it comes to democracy and governance in the country.

A poll conducted in December found an almost equal number of Russians felt late Soviet ruler Josef Stalin was an “inhuman tyrant” as those who thought he was “a wise leader who led the U.S.S.R. to greatness and prosperity.”

A survey released in January showed 46 per cent of Russians only “partially” believed there is democracy in Russia today.

The Levada Center, founded by late Russian sociologist Yuri Levada has reportedly run afoul of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin in the past, after publishing poll results showing a drop in approval for Putin.

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An October 2015 poll from Levada, however, showed Russian public approval of Putin rose to 88 per cent — just one point shy of his all-time high of 89 per cent three months prior.

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