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Almost half of Russians see USSR collapse as shameful – poll

Almost half of Russians see USSR collapse as shameful – poll
The collapse of the Soviet Union is considered a reason to be ashamed by 45 percent of Russians according to a recent opinion poll. The only option that scored higher is Russia’s failure to eradicate poverty.

The poll conducted in late 2018 by the Levada Center is its latest study of what Russians are proud and ashamed of about their nation. The demise of the USSR saw a rebound in popularity from a low point of 28 percent in mid-2015, and is at a level comparable with the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The only more popular answer is Russia’s failure to eradicate poverty, which was named as a reason to be ashamed by 61 percent of the people polled. This answer has topped Levada’s polls for decades.

Russians are also ashamed of fellow countrymen treating each other disrespectfully (37 percent), Russia’s failure to catch up economically with the Western powers (24 percent), the outcome of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms (24 percent), and Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror (21 percent).

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On the opposite side of Russians’ national identity are the qualities and events people are proud of. Defeating Nazi Germany in World War II remains the one thing Russians are overwhelmingly proud of (87 percent). There is also the role that the country played in space exploration – about half are proud to belong to a space pioneering nation. The third most popular option is accepting Crimea (the breakaway former Ukrainian region) as part of Russia again, which is seen as a point of national pride by 45 percent.

Many people are also proud of Russian literature, science, and martial prowess, Soviet-era industrialization and the best qualities of the Russian character, like resolve and patience.

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A record 75 percent said Russia is definitely or most likely a great nation today, while 88 percent believe that it should be one. There was no apparent correlation between wishing greatness for Russia and regretting the USSR’s collapse, the agency noted, suggesting that Russians expect a great nation to first and foremost provide social justice and protection.

Sixty-two percent said the Russians are a great people. Levada remarked that about 80 percent of the people polled identified themselves as Russians.

When asked what makes them feel connected to their people, most respondents named national history (53 percent), Russia’s land (35 percent), their place of birth (33 percent), and the nature that they call their own (25 percent). The formal national symbols, including the flag, the coat of arms, and the national anthem, was the least popular option (five percent). Interestingly, religion is a relatively small factor in Russian national identity (nine percent).

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