For those hoping that Russians will gradually reject the authoritarian rule by Vladimir Putin, a new poll will be a disappointment. Russians have long favored the strongman leader and that taste for authoritarianism has not greatly diminished. A new poll shows that Russians place Stalin at the top of the list of the greatest historical figures of all time. Putin tied with poet Alexander Pushkin for second place. The poll was conducted by the Levada Centre.
Stalin of course murdered millions in political purges and repression. His grossly negligent conduct before and during World War II contributed to the deaths of tens of millions. The Russians often brush over the fact that Russia was an ally of Adolph Hitler and carved up Eastern Europe with Hitler in a non-aggression pact. Hitler would later break the infamous treaty with Russia, but Stalin was perfectly willing to assist Hitler in his global conquest while invading other nations in a spasm of bloodshed. Like the Nazis, Stalin ordered the rounding up of intellectuals and opponents. For example, thousands of military officers and intellectuals were killed under Stalin in Poland in the Katyn Massacre.
Judging from the Soviet records we now have, the number of people who died in the Gulag between 1933 and 1945, while both Stalin and Hitler were in power, was on the order of a million, perhaps a bit more. The total figure for the entire Stalinist period is likely between two million and three million. The Great Terror and other shooting actions killed no more than a million people, probably a bit fewer. The largest human catastrophe of Stalinism was the famine of 1930–1933, in which more than five million people died. Of those who starved, the 3.3 million or so inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine who died in 1932 and 1933 were victims of a deliberate killing policy related to nationality. In early 1930, Stalin had announced his intention to “liquidate” prosperous peasants (“kulaks”) as a class so that the state could control agriculture and use capital extracted from the countryside to build industry. Tens of thousands of people were shot by Soviet state police and hundreds of thousands deported. Those who remained lost their land and often went hungry as the state requisitioned food for export. The first victims of starvation were the nomads of Soviet Kazakhstan, where about 1.3 million people died. The famine spread to Soviet Russia and peaked in Soviet Ukraine. Stalin requisitioned grain in Soviet Ukraine knowing that such a policy would kill millions. Blaming Ukrainians for the failure of his own policy, he ordered a series of measures—such as sealing the borders of that Soviet republic—that ensured mass death. In 1937, as his vision of modernization faltered, Stalin ordered the Great Terror. Because we now have the killing orders and the death quotas, inaccessible so long as the Soviet Union existed, we now know that the number of victims was not in the millions. We also know that, as in the early 1930s, the main victims were the peasants, many of them survivors of hunger and of concentration camps. The highest Soviet authorities ordered 386,798 people shot in the “Kulak Operation” of 1937–1938. The other major “enemies” during these years were people belonging to national minorities who could be associated with states bordering the Soviet Union: some 247,157 Soviet citizens were killed by the NKVD in ethnic shooting actions. In the largest of these, the “Polish Operation” that began in August 1937, 111,091 people accused of espionage for Poland were shot. In all, 682,691 people were killed during the Great Terror, to which might be added a few hundred thousand more Soviet citizens shot in smaller actions. The total figure of civilians deliberately killed under Stalinism, around six million, is of course horribly high. But it is far lower than the estimates of twenty million or more made before we had access to Soviet sources. At the same time, we see that the motives of these killing actions were sometimes far more often national, or even ethnic, than we had assumed. Indeed it was Stalin, not Hitler, who initiated the first ethnic killing campaigns in interwar Europe.
Roughly 2-3 million Russians would die in Stalin’s Gulag prisons. His moronic communist policies led to the famine of 1930-33 in which five million died. Millions starved as result of official policies targeting them due to nationality. Tens of thousands were shot by Stalin’s secret police. Stalin’s purging of the military before World War II destroyed the officer corp and contributed to the massive defeats against the Germans after their invasion.
Despite this history, Stalin received 38 percent of the votes while Putin tied with poet Pushkin with 34 percent.
80 thoughts on “Russians Select Stalin As Greatest Leader Of All Time In New Poll”
Steve G. I often question some of your postings, but this time I think you’re right on.
Read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – the masses are more malleable than butter!
See Trump’s ratings.
No accounting for tastes.
Polls are like statistics; there are lies, damn lies, and then statistics (and then polls). The caveat is that there is some good statistical analysis and there are some good polls. Oh well…
Even assuming this poll reveals something, it is likely two factors are strongly at play. One is, ironically, the result of the US (and US required European) heavy economic sanctions placed on Russia since the US sponsored coup in Ukraine (2014). These sanctions have had the opposite effect intended. Instead of influencing the Russian population to go against Putin due to the suffering, it has instead galvanized the Russian people to look for strong (authoritarian) leadership to protect them from economic warfare waged by the US super power against their country.
The second thing is Stalin has been dead a long time and, much like some of our youth with Tricky Dick, time has obscured the nastiness and, in Stalin’s case, a lot of the lethal context that should qualify such “strong leadership”. Russia is not the only country where authoritarianism is often confused with strength.
If starting a war is a splendid way to make propaganda lobotomized citizens forget about the weaknesses and suffering caused by a leader or system, being the recipient or victim of economic sanctions is equally marvelous at achieving much the same effect, especially at the level of the sanctions imposed by Obama on Russia.
Oh come on, Stalin was for the people, equality of condition (unless you work in government), against free speech, and was against evil capitalism. Sounds like the average professor or Liberal to me. I’ve known academics who praise Stalin and communism. Academics. Who, I would surmise, do have access to history books and have some idea that equality of condition makes everyone poor and starving, with the inevitable government ruling class living like kings.
My father told me that they discovered that the ruling Communist Party had their own secret phone lines that they could order anything they wanted…all while there were bread lines of starving, equal, people.
Communism is the most nihilistic form of government there is. Imagine. Nothing you do will improve your condition of that of your family. You could work yourself to the bone, come up with fantastic ideas and inventions, be the most talented artist…or not work at all and twiddle your thumbs. And you would have the same outcome – poverty and starvation. Why even try?
My friend grew up in Moldova under the USSR. Capitalism was illegal. Her family had a black market capitalist business, so they had warmer clothes and ate better, but they lived in fear that their neighbors would turn them in. She went back to visit her ailing mother with her young son. The other kids took all his toys. She said that private ownership is still frowned upon. The other kids have the notion that her son wasn’t allowed to keep his toys. They all got to have them for a while, and when they got tired of them, they would go to someone else. Such cultural beliefs have been warped by communism and socialism for so long that they are deep in their psyche. Which means that they struggle sometimes under the healthier capitalism paradigm. She also said that their nationalized healthcare was horrid and her mother got severely substandard care compared to the US.
As long as people keep saying that it’s unfair for someone else to have earned a good living, then communism and socialism will have appeal. They will envision this utopia where everyone has the best food, best clothes, art, music, education, and everyone will have a middle class lifestyle. But the reality is that socialist or communist countries (Venezuela) live quite poorly. They have no right to free speech because the government cannot afford to have people complaining. They are typically the worst polluters. They tyrannize their own people. And those who live the best often work for government or bribe government.
So how do you explain the societies of northern Europe, which fairly socialist, certainly by American standards, and horribly socialist by Republican standards? Yet most people there like their governments. And without all those Stalinist purges.
The Soviet system was pure tyranny disguised as “communism.” For something approaching actual communism, you would have to consider religious societies such as the Shakers and the Amana colonies in the US.
While most of you that are all for kakistocracy and have your busts of Rand, Trump, and now Putin this poll should remind you how a type of government can make you think.
Obviously, the choice for the respondents was to vote for Stalin or Putin, or face the Gulag. The college students in America are extremely brainwashed by left-wing professors, and I fear a majority of them would also vote for Stalin or Putin(or Castro or Mao) as the “greatest leader of all time”!
Actually they could vote for anyone from any country. That the results were as they were, your point is still reasonable.
I suppose you could be charitable and suggest that annoyed respondents were flipping the pollster the bird.
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
Again: “We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
Then and now. There…and here.
To paraphrase Stalin, It’s not the people who vote in the poll that counts, it’s the people who count the votes in the poll the matter. Tell me more about that and I’ll tell you more about the legitimacy of the poll.
The history that you’ve provided on Stalin and communism was taught to us when I was young. We were regularly reminded what was going on in Russia and the communist block nations. Nothing revealing here for me. We cherished the greatness and freedom this nation offered. The thought of burning our flag was never thought of as “free speech”, too many died for it. Oh yes we respected the office of the President Republican, Democrat or Independent no matter what. I believe today very little is taught to America’s youth about the dangers of communism and socialism or they would act a bit different at universities and colleges. I would say many of you teachers and professors are in fact closet communist.
Russians are as brainwashed with stalinism as Americans are with plutocracy on the hypothesis that someone else knows what’s good for us.
I’d venture the majority of those subscribing to this blog would be happy with a House Un-American Activities Committee to control dissent.
They’re mental midgets living in fear of their own minds.
“I’d venture the majority of those subscribing to this blog would be happy with a House Un-American Activities Committee to control dissent.”
Wrong again, Steve. Oh the arrogance of a perfect record.
Steve, you do realize that most of the members of that committee were Democrats, don’t you?
Allan, even if your statement is true, mine was a nonpartisan statement. Democrats subscribing to this blog voted for Hillary Clinton, and I gather you voted for Trump. Need I say more?
My statement is totally true. Let me ask you who in your opinion on the House of Unamerican Activities was the worst? I think at least 2/3rds were Democrats Maybe more. I had no choice as to who to vote for. It was Trump or an unconvicted criminal and liar who should never have been the Democrats choice.
you could have done as I did and voted for neither. I do not feel myself obligated to vote in the event I find both candidates distasteful
“I do not feel myself obligated to vote in the event I find both candidates distasteful”
I didn’t like certain things about Trump so he wasn’t my preferred candidate though he grew on me with time and now that he is President based upon what I have seen I think he is doing a good job and perhaps I should have been a strong supporter from the beginning. Before final judgement I’ll see how he performs.
But, Bryan we differ. Distaste is an awful reason not to vote. If Bernie were running against Hillary I would have voted for Bernie even though his ideas are 180 degrees opposed to mine (though we might agree on the end results). To vote for Hillary or not vote at all was a vote for a liar, thief, and an incompetent.
Acted and looked like the Democrats did following their loss after they shot themselves in the foot by nominating Hillary Clinton.
I remember talking to one of my Russian friends and I asked him how do you say good morning in Russian.
His reply: “That would imply that it is a possibility.”
Kinda sums it up for me.
This poll wasn’t limited to only Russian historical figures. The 1,600 that voted could have chosen any person from any country and yet the top 3 were those in this article; all from Russia. How many generations in Russia were taught history approved by the communist regimes? Even now, given an opportunity to learn actual facts of the Stalin era, there is still an overwhelming warmth for Stalin’s defeat of Germany and the propaganda that it was he that saved the world from fascism.
This polling tells me more about the need to decentralize government and especially education if we are to retain our freedoms and secure our rights.
Olly, don’t forget we have to protect our precious bodily fluids too!
I apparently missed that story Roscoe. What was that about?
I’ve never seen the entire movie. Now I have to.
Peter Sellers plays 3 of the main characters. Brilliant beyond.
I’ve seen it over a dozen times and wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
Gen. Curtis LeMay probably didn’t know it was a comedy.😉
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