By Paul Goble
The population of the Russian Federation is “categorically against” the de-Stalinization and de-Sovietization that the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights says are preconditions for the modernization of the country, according to the results of a massive poll.
On the Rosbalt.ru portal today, sociologist Yuliya Krizhanskaya syas that the poll makes clear that “despite all ‘the dark places’ of the Soviet past, [residents of the Russian Federation] do not want to disown it” at least in part because “everyone understands that the Soviet past is what unites us” now (www.rosbalt.ru/main/2011/05/06/846408.html).
Krizhanskaya says the poll was taken because the Presidential Council’s call for “de-Stalinization” and “de-Sovietization” includes numerous controversial ideas such as equating the USSR with Hitler’s Germany, accusing the Soviet government of genocide against Russians, and declaring “the entire Soviet period” a criminal one.
The Council, she continues, declared that such steps are needed because it is view, “the modernization of the country” would be “impossible without ‘the modernization of the consciousness of its citizens’ in a ‘de-Sovietized direction and also because of the necessity of uniting society” in the process.
Such an assertion, Krizhanskaya says, means that “they want to modernize the consciousness of the citizens of Russia, that is, all of us, supposedly in our own interests but without asking us” if that is something Russians in fact want.
The Essence of Time Public Movement, she says, decided “to find out” what the public thinks about this idea. Some 1500 of its activists during April queried more than 36,000 adults, in some 1700 population centers in 77 “oblasts, krays, and republics.” The “main” finding, she says is that “Russia said a decisive ‘No’ to the program of ‘de-sovietization.”
Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said they would vote against any referendum on the conducting of a program “which would presuppose the recognition of the Soviet Union as a criminal state, which conducted genocide against its own people, and was guilty of unleashing World War II.
As far as backing for a program of de-Stalinization, “only ten percent” backed that as “correct and useful,” while 20 percent said they were “indifferent,” and “70 percent” were completely opposed. “But even among those who reacted ‘positively,’ 40 percent ‘voted’ against its realization in the country.”
This pattern held for all social, regional, ethnic and age groups, Krizhanskaya continues, and that permits only one conclusion: “Everyone understands that the Soviet past is what unifies us. And correspondingly, everything that is directed against it divides us” and won’t be supported, if people in fact have a choice, as Krizhanskaya says, they should.