Almost half of Russians surveyed would be in favor of installing a monument to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, a poll revealed on Wednesday. The percentage of citizens backing the idea has almost doubled in 11 years.
The survey was conducted by Moscow’s Levada Center, which has received Western funding and is registered as a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice. According to the results, 48% of respondents would back a monument to Stalin, an increase from 25% in 2010, and 36% in 2015.
Stalin, born in Georgia as Joseph Jughashvili, became leader of the USSR in 1924, following the death of revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. The legacy of the despot splits opinion inside modern Russia. For some, he is a hero for his leadership through World War II, but for another segment of society, he was a tyrant who led a repressive and murderous regime. For others, he is a mixture of the two.
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The research revealed that support for a Stalin statue is not correlated by age, with both the oldest and youngest surveyed age groups polling at least 50% in favor. However, a correlation was discovered for education and income levels, with more educated and wealthier Russians less likely to back a statue of the Soviet leader.
Levada also asked Russians about the proposed ‘Stalin Center’, a museum complex dedicated to the life of the controversial figure.The pollsters found that 60% of respondents back the idea, with just 30% against it.
Earlier this year, businessman, local public representative, and Russian Communist Party benefactor Aleksey Zorov revealed he would be funding the museum.
According to the party’s official website, the local Nizhny Novgorod regional branch will create what will be the largest museum in Russia dedicated to the Georgian-born Bolshevik. Last year, Zorov made international headlines when he erected the region’s only statue to the ‘Man of Steel’ in the city of Bor, a four-hour train ride east of Moscow, on his own private land, where the museum will be located.
In recent years, statues of the former dictator have popped up throughout the country, mainly organized by members of the Communist Party. In 2015, the city of Penza opened its own ‘Stalin Center’. Meanwhile, in the southern resort city of Sochi, his former summer house is a popular tourist attraction.
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