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Dynamics of the attitude of Ukrainians to Stalin (1991-2023)

The press release was prepared by the president of KIIS, Volodymyr Paniotto, and the executive director Anton Hrushetskyi

 

From September 29 to October 9, 2023, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". Bythemethodofcomputer-assistedtelephoneinterviews(CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,010 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR of Crimea) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, lived on the territory of Ukraine (within the boundaries controlled by the Ukrainian authorities until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were not temporarily controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), and the survey was not conducted with citizens abroad.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 3.4% for indicators close to 50%, 3.0% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 5%.

Under conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In particular, if in May 2022, among all the respondents we interviewed, 2.5-4% lived in the territories occupied after February 24 (and this corresponded to the percentage of those who live there, because the generation of telephone numbers was random), now due to the occupiers turning off the telephone connection, not a single respondent who currently lives in occupied settlements was included in the sample (along with this, out of a total of 1,010 respondents, 22 respondents lived in a settlement that is currently occupied until February 24, 2022). It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general trends were quite similar. That is, the impossibility of interviewing such respondents does not significantly affect the quality of the results. There are other factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions, which were cited by KIIS earlier.

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative and allow for a fairly reliable analysis of the public moods of the population.

 

 

The attitude towards the figure of Stalin is one of the indicators characterizing the level of decommunization in society. KIIS from time to time asks questions about the attitude to Stalin in different formulations. In the September-early October 2023 research, we asked whether respondents considered Stalin a great leader (see Table 1 in the Annex).  The results are presented in graph 1.

 

Graph 1. Do you agree or disagree with the statement: "Stalin was a great leader"?, %

 

 

As we can see, only 9% agree, 72% do not consider Stalin a great leader, and 18% hesitate.

The number of those who consider Stalin a great leader increases from West to East (West – 6.2%, Center – 7.1%, South – 9.6%, East – 15.4%). There is practically no difference by gender, with age the number of those who consider Stalin a great leader increases slightly, but not significantly (from 9% at the age of 18-29 to 12% at the age of 70 and older), the difference by education is very insignificant.

Graph 2 shows the dynamics of the percentage of those who consider Stalin a great leader. As we can see, in 1991, immediately after the declaration of Ukraine's independence, there were 27% of them. Then this percentage grew and in 2002 there were almost 40% of them. It should be noted that the level of poverty also increased during this period, perhaps this reflects a certain disappointment of the population of Ukraine in the changes that have taken place. And further the percentage of those who consider Stalin a great leader decreased from 39% to 9%.

 

Graph2. Dynamics of the number of Ukrainians who consider Stalin a great leader, %

 

 

In May-June 2023, we asked a different question about the attitude towards Stalin in the wording "How do you personally feel about Stalin in general?". The respondent could choose one of the answers: "with admiration", "with respect", "with sympathy", "indifference", "with dislike, irritation", "with fear", "with disgust, hatred". The first three options actually correspond to a positive attitude towards Stalin, the last three to a negative one (see press release https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1130&page=1).   In June 2023, and we are sure that now,  the majority of Ukrainians - 61% - had a negative attitude towards Stalin and only 4% - a positive one (another 26% are indifferent to him).  Dynamics of attitudes towards Stalin are shown in graph 3.

 

Graph3. How do you personally feel about Stalin in general?

 

 

Comparison of attitudes towards Stalin in Ukraine and Russia

 

For some years, there are Levada Center research results that are representative of the Russian population and obtained using the same question (the Russian independent non-governmental research organization "Levada Center" was forcibly entered into the register of non-profit organizations of Russia that perform the functions of a foreign agent). The results of the comparison are shown in graph 4.

 

Graph4. Dynamics of the number of Ukrainians and Russians,

 

 

who consider Stalin a great leader, %

 

As we can see, in 1991-1992 there was practically no difference in the number of those who considered Stalin a great leader, in 2016 the difference was already statistically significant (5 percentage points), but not very large. We do not have data for 2017-2020, but we can assume that the difference grew rapidly thereafter. In 2021, the difference was already 40% (percentage points), and in 2023 – 45%.  The share of Russians who in one way or another agree that Stalin is a great leader has practically not changed since 2021: 54% of respondents think so (56% in May 2021), but the share of those who disagree with this statement has decreased, it was 12% (in May 2021 – 14%), that is, the difference has not changed.

The difference in the dynamics of the personal attitude of Ukrainians and Russians towards Stalin is even more striking (see graph 5). The graph shows the percentage of those who have a positive attitude towards Stalin.

 

Graph5. Comparison of the positive attitude towards Stalin in Ukraine and Russia, %

 

 

* Data for the year 2022 are not available, so simulated results are shown for illustration purposes.

 

If in 2012 approximately the same proportion of the population in Ukraine and Russia had a positive attitude towards Stalin, then in Ukraine in general there were fewer sympathizers of the Soviet dictator, while in Russia, on the contrary, affection for him grew rapidly and now the majority of the population has a positive attitude. In Russia, between 2012 and 2023, the share of those who perceive Stalin positively increased from 28% to 63%.

 

V. Paniotto, comment on the survey results:

The attitude towards Stalin is a sensitive indicator of the success of the decommunization processes in Ukraine and a particularly telling indicator of the difference between Ukrainian and Russian society. If now 9% of Ukrainians consider Stalin a great leader and 4% have a positive attitude towards him, then in Russia 54% consider him one of the most cruel tyrants in the history of mankind, and 63% treat him with admiration, respect or sympathy. Moreover, according to the data of the same Levada Center, for the last 10 years (since 2012), Stalin heads the list of the most outstanding people of all times and nations from the point of view of the population of Russia, Table . (see https://www.levada.ru/2021/06/21/samye-vydayushhiesya-lichnosti-v-istorii/)

 

 

 

Table A. Please name the 10 most outstanding people of all times and nations (fragment of the table)

  1994 1999 2003 2008 2012 2017 2021
V. Lenin 20 35 40 36 42 38 39
A. Pushkin 34 42 43 34 37 32 30
Peter I 23 42 39 47 29 34 23
V. Putin 41 45 43 37 37 29 19
Yu. Gagarin     21 32 22 34 15
G. Zhukov 8 26 33 25 20 20 13
L. Brezhnev 14 20 22 23 15 12 12
A. Einstein 6 8 12 9 12 8 10
D. Mendeleev 5 6 7 7 7 7 9
V. Lenin 6 12 13 13 12 10 8

 

  In fact, Stalin became a national hero of Russia. Such an attitude towards Stalin, which is stimulated by propaganda, is an important component of modern Russian culture, it creates the basis for the establishment of a Stalinist-type dictatorship in Russia and contributes to the support of Russia's aggressive foreign policy.

 

Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire

 

Do you agree or disagree with the statement: "Stalin was a great leader"?

Completely disagree 1
Rather disagree 2
Agree in some ways, disagree in some ways 3
Rather agree 4
Completely agree 5
DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ) 6
REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ) 7

 

Annex2. Tables

 

Table 1.  Do you agree or disagree with the statement: "Stalin was a great leader"?

 

Answer options Percentage
Completely disagree 61.8
Rather disagree 10.3
Agree in some ways, disagree in some ways 13.0
Rather agree 3.1
Completely agree 5.5
DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ) 5.8
REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ) 0.5
TOTAL 100

 

Table 2.  Regional distribution of answers to the question whether Stalin was a great leader.

Region Completely disagree Rather disagree Agree in some ways, disagree in some ways Rather agree Completely agree Difficult to say Refusal to answer Total
West 76.4% 5.1% 6.2% 2.9% 3.3% 5.5% 0.7% 100.0%
Center 62.5% 10.2% 12.8% 1.7% 5.4% 6.8% 0.6% 100.0%
South 50.8% 16.8% 18.0% 4.8% 4.8% 4.4% 0.4% 100.0%
East 50.0% 9.6% 17.6% 3.7% 11.8% 6.6% 0.7% 100.0%

 

Table 3.  Gender and distribution of answers to the question whether Stalin was a great leader.

Gender Completely disagree Rather disagree Agree in some ways, disagree in some ways Rather agree Completely agree Difficult to say Refusal to answer Total
Male 63.5% 10.9% 10.5% 2.2% 6.3% 6.1% 0.4% 100.0%
Female 60.3% 9.9% 15.0% 3.8% 4.9% 5.6% 0.5% 100.0%

 

Table 4.  Age and distribution of answers to the question whether Stalin was a great leader.

Age Completely disagree Rather disagree Agree in some ways, disagree in some ways Rather agree Completely agree Difficult to say Refusal to answer Total
18-29 64.5% 13.6% 10.0% 1.8% 7.3% 1.8% 0.9% 100.0%
30-39 61.1% 17.5% 12.3% 0.8% 5.6% 2.4% 0.4% 100.0%
40-49 62.5% 7.8% 14.1% 3.6% 3.6% 7.8% 0.5% 100.0%
50-59 66.1% 4.8% 11.5% 3.0% 6.1% 8.5%   100.0%
60-69 57.7% 10.3% 14.1% 3.8% 6.4% 6.4% 1.3% 100.0%
70+ 59.7% 4.5% 14.9% 7.5% 4.5% 9.0%   100.0%

 

           


9.11.2023
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