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Russians “don’t notice” 90th anniversary of Soviet Union’s foundation

January 11, 2013, 15:04 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

The 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Soviet Union that was marked on December 30, 2012, passed almost unnoticed, as the number of people, who are having a nostalgia for the Soviet Union, is going down every year, as the sociological surveys showed. The experts believe that people should not forget the history of their homeland and should study it scrupulously. The politicians already offered to mark in the proper way just the centennial anniversary of the Soviet Union.

On December 30, 1922, the first Congress of the Soviets adopted the Declaration and the Treaty for the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 90 years later mainly the Communists held festive events on the occasion of the Soviet Union anniversary in Russia and other former Soviet republics on this day in the previous year. The New Year holiday cares on this day-off in 2012 obviously overshadowed this event, which would certainly be marked with pompous celebrations on the national scale in the Soviet times.

Historian Leonid Mlechin believes that the reason that the memorable date remained unnoticed is not only in the holidays and winter vacations. “Meanwhile, the revolutions, the Civil War, the shock-work construction projects within the five-year Soviet development plans are not studied sufficiently,” he told the newspaper Trud. “Alias, today the intellectual life in Russia is sluggish. Not only the money, but also the demand is not enough for the popularization of truly scientific works in history. The society does not care much about the history,” he said.

“Nothing should be forgotten,” essayist Konstantin Krylov said with confidence. “The 90th anniversary of the Soviet Union was a perfect reason to discuss the Soviet legacy, try to draw the lessons from the past and to review the bad and good things then. It is a pity that we did not take advantage of this occasion at all,” he noted.

“Why were all of us keeping silence?” writer Sergei Shargunov contemplated. “Probably, this is a matter of professionalism and personal qualities of historians, political scientists and journalists,” he believes. “The Russian state authorities hardly needed to hush up the 90th anniversary of the Soviet Union. This issue is important. The Soviet Union is not only a matter of nostalgia. The country advanced on the path of development, overcame enormous barriers. The collapse of that state was not predetermined by the history at all. Modern Russia cannot measure its strength with the Soviet Union, but it would be quite good for the country to draw the lessons from the recent past,” he noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said back in September 2004, after 186 children and 148 adults were killed in the hostage-taking drama in the North Ossetian town Beslan, that the Russian population reaps bitter fruits of “the breakup of a huge and great country.” Putin stated then that he takes the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

However, the number of people, who are feeling nostalgic for the Soviet times, is on the decline every year. According to the sociological results of the Levada Centre, now already less than 50% of Russians regret about the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, according to the sociological survey of the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM), their number reached 56%.

The sociological survey conducted by the Levada Centre showed that people, who regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union, still constitute a relative majority (49%). However, their percentage went down by a fourth as compared with the sociological survey in 2000. The number of those, who do not regret about the breakup of the Soviet Union, is growing at the same time. In 2000 there were only 19% of those who share this opinion, and now there are already 35% of them. It is noteworthy that, according to the Levada Centre sociological data, the Russians regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union mostly because they lost the feeling of belongingness to the great power (52%).

VCIOM has made public quite close sociological data. According to VCIOM, if in 2002 65% of Russians were nostalgic about the Soviet Union, now their percentage went down to 56%. Mainly young people, people with the higher education and active Internet users do not regret about this event.

The sociological surveys, which showed the attitude of the Russians to the breakup of the Soviet Union, were also held before. In particular, according to the sociological polls of the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), in 1992 69% of respondents regretted about the foresaid event in 1991. In 1997 their percentage reached 84%.

“It is difficult to find any people, who had lived in the empire, and would not be sad about its collapse,” head of the Centre of the Studies of Elites in the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences Olga Kryshtanovskaya told Itar-Tass. “All people want to live in a strong and powerful country,” she said. In the Soviet times “the power was strong, but it is a different story how people lived there,” she said.

“The fewer people, who lived in the Soviet times, stay alive, the fewer people will be feeling sad about the USSR breakup,” the Kommersant daily quoted deputy director of the Levada Centre Alexei Grazhdankin as saying.

Deputy of the State Duma and secretary for ideology of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia Dmitry Novikov also believes that this tendency is caused by a falling number of people, who lived in the Soviet Union. “It is difficult for people to express their attitude to the society, in which they did not live. But the Russians will have enough reasons for discontent, therefore, they will certainly turn to the experience of the Soviet Union,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Sergei Morozov and Chief Editor of the newspaper Zavtra (Tomorrow) Alexander Prokhanov, who is a well-known politician that calls for a strong Russian state, have made an address recently to Vladimir Putin, asking him to launch the preparations to the celebrations of the centennial anniversary of the Soviet Union at the state level soon. They particularly offered to turn Lenin’s native city Ulyanovsk in a centre of festivities on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the October Revolution and the Soviet Union, as well as establish a museum dedicated to the Soviet Union on the premises of the Lenin Memorial in Ulyanovsk.

“We should bridge that civilizational, cultural and mental gap, which resulted in a national wound at the end of the twentieth century. It is needed to reach a national consensus in the assessment of the Soviet epoch in the unbiased way, without any political hysteria and ideological radicalism. The great nation and the great country cannot exist without the great history. The great history of the Soviet Union should be reintegrated in the many-century history of great Russia,” the authors of the address noted.

The document offers to put December 30 on the list of memorable dates in Russia and to form a working group for the run-up to the centennial anniversary of the Soviet Union in 2022 at the level of the Russian government.