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Carnegie: Stalin still admired in ex-Soviet lands

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm •  Published: March 1, 2013

Putin, a former KGB officer, has avoided open public praise or criticism of Stalin, but he has restored Soviet-era symbols and focused on the nation's Soviet-era achievements rather than Stalinist crimes. Kremlin critics have seen attempts to whitewash Stalin's image as part of Putin's rollback on democracy.

Many in Russia have been dismayed by government-sponsored school textbooks that paint Stalin in a largely positive light and by the reconstruction of a Moscow subway station that restored old Soviet national anthem lyrics praising Stalin as part of its interior decoration.

In the most recent sign of respect for the dictator earlier this year, the regional legislature decreed that the city of Volgograd, which was known as Stalingrad until its renaming in 1961, should once again be known by its old name on days commemorating the historic WWII battle. In some Russian cities, authorities ordered images of Stalin to be put on city buses as part of festivities.

The Carnegie report revealed that while a high number of Russians have a positive view of Stalin, his era mostly draws negative perceptions, an ambiguity that reflects public confusion, the legacy of totalitarian "doublethink" and paternalist state model.

An even greater admiration of Stalin was seen in his homeland, Georgia, where 45 percent of respondents expressed a positive view of him. In Armenia, 38 percent of those polled said their country will always need leaders like Stalin. In Azerbaijan, where respondents viewed Stalin more negatively compared to the three other nations, 22 percent of those polled didn't even know who Stalin was.