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Half of Russians strongly condemn Stalin’s repressions, while 43% justify them — poll

The pollster attribute such results to the fact that there is the lack of information on the events of the Stalin era

MOSCOW, July 5. /TASS/. Most Russians (90%) know about the repressions carried out by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, with half of the respondents condemning the punitive actions and another 43% saying that it would have been impossible to maintain order in the country without them, a poll by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center showed on Wednesday.

"A significant number of respondents (43%) who know about the repressions seem to agree with the stance that it was impossible to preserve order in the country without carrying out repressions," the survey said. "A slightly higher number (49% among all respondents and 57% among those whose family members were subject to repressions) disagree with this and strongly condemn the repressions."

More than two-thirds of Russians (68%) say the Soviet Union's court rulings on the repressed persons were unfair. Some 24% of the polled said their relatives were among those subjected to the punitive measures, including the infamous labor camps. Some 16% of Russians said they believe the punishment during the Stalin era (1922-1952) was fair.

According to the respondents, on the one hand, the victims of repressions were people "who disagreed with the authorities’ policy (37%) and also those enjoying authority among people (22%), while on the other hand, these were ‘traitors’ and ‘conspirators’ (24%), ‘swindlers and thieves’ (23%)."

Russian society remains divided over Stalin’s repressions and this may be attributed to the fact that there is the lack of information on the events of the Stalin era, the pollster said. Most Russians (72%) believe that there is the need to tell the younger generation about these repressions so that they do not repeat in the future. On the contrary, 22% of respondents say this discussion should be reduced to a minimum as this negatively affects the country’s image.

"The topic of Stalin, Stalinism and Stalin’s victories and defeats, the Stalin era and Stalin’s repressions has remained on the agenda for the past 30 years," Director General of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center Valery Fedorov said. Russian society "is trying to decide on its dethroned idol and create an uncontroversial version of history of the dramatic 20th century," he said.

"Until all the i’s are dotted, we will have to again and again return to the acute political and moral issues of Stalin’s rule," the expert said, noting that the poll is a "small contribution to a difficult and slothful task of returning historic truth to those who really need it - the inheritors of the repressed and the perpetrators of repressions."

The nationwide poll was conducted on June 9-10, 2017 based on phone interviews with 1,200 Russian adults. The margin of error does not exceed 3.5% at the 95% confidence level.