Russians bet on modernizers – Kommersant


The most popular political leaders of the past in Russia – Peter I, Catherine II and Joseph Stalin, and the worst attitude of our fellow citizens to Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev, follows from the results of a survey on attitudes towards the historical rulers of our country, which was conducted by the Russian Field research group. The position of Stalin, who closes the top three, is called a sensation by the initiators of the survey – they expected him to lead.

Most often, positive assessments of respondents were received by Peter I (82%) and Catherine II (71%). They also have the lowest anti-rating: 6% and 10% of respondents, respectively, expressed a negative attitude towards these rulers. These are the results of the poll, which was conducted on August 8-14 by order of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications (APEC). The all-Russian survey involved 1.6 thousand respondents from a representative sample with an error of no more than 2.45%.

Joseph Stalin closes the top three: 65% of respondents speak positively about him, 20% – negatively. This practically coincides with the results of the latest polls of other research centers, from which it is also clear that Stalin is at the peak of his rating, having greatly increased compared to the early 2000s: according to one of the latest polls by the Levada Center (included in the register of foreign agents), the number of those who treat the generalissimo with respect (47%), admiration (7%) and sympathy (9%), reaches 63%, another 23% speak of indifference. It is noteworthy that according to the results of the Russian Field poll, Leonid Brezhnev is almost as good as him (61% positive and 17% negative ratings). The approval of Joseph Stalin is more typical for men over 60 years old, with a family income of up to 80 thousand rubles. per month, without higher education. Negative attitudes are more common among educated people with the highest incomes.

Russians show a negative attitude primarily towards Boris Yeltsin (63% with 17% positive assessments) and Mikhail Gorbachev (64% and 19% respectively). Both leaders evoke the least sympathy among men, respondents over 30 years old and people with a family income of up to 40 thousand rubles. per month. A positive attitude towards them is most often expressed by young people (in the age group under 30, almost a third of the respondents), but a negative assessment is characteristic mainly of older people (up to 80% in the 60+ category).

Ivan III, Alexander I and Alexander II turned out to be the least known persons for Russians: from 38% to 53% of the respondents simply could not assess these tsars.

Attitude towards Russian leaders of the past is the foundation of both the emerging agenda of the presidential campaign and new priorities in teaching Russian history, Dmitry Orlov, CEO of APEC, explained to Kommersant. That is why, according to him, APEC was the customer of the survey. The answers to the questions asked are generally adequate to the expectations, the political scientist believes. In particular, he calls “expected” the lack of information about Russian monarchs who played a colossal role in national history: Ivan III, the creator of a centralized state, Alexander I, who entered Paris in 1814, and Alexander II the Liberator, the initiator of systemic reforms that changed Russia. But this is also a serious challenge for the system of teaching national history, Mr. Orlov insists. Nor is he surprised by the negative attitude towards Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. But Dmitry Orlov assesses the third place of Joseph Stalin as a sensation, admitting that he “was expecting his leadership.” The fact that the survey participants prefer Peter I and Catherine II, according to the political scientist, means that the activity and dynamism of the head of state, as well as his policy of intensive development and modernization, are important for Russians.

Building a political strategy in modern Russia on historical images is a thankless task, political scientist Alexei Makarkin believes, especially when it comes to quantitative studies that do not show nuances. In fact, Peter and Catherine owe their popularity to school textbooks, in which these characters are rated the most highly for a long time, he believes. As for the general secretaries of Stalin and Brezhnev, love for them is largely a consequence of the frustration of the older generation, although the rating of Joseph Stalin is complex and includes several components at once, the expert makes a reservation. Moreover, this frustration, in his opinion, is caused not so much by the difficult economic situation as by the collapse of the USSR and the desire for revenge. For the younger generation, these are generally characters from deep history, like Ivan the Terrible. The young “are already quite capable of putting Stalin and Yeltsin on the same level and evaluating them in terms of, for example, personal success,” notes Mr. Makarkin. It’s better to search for a “role model”, after all, evaluating characters from literature and cinema, as, for example, it was done in the recent past, when for several years in a row Russian voters opted for Stirlitz from Seventeen Moments of Spring, the political scientist recalls. However, such an approach can be problematic given the cultural gap between generations, admits Alexey Makarkin.

Anastasia Kornya

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