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22 Jan, 2024 12:56

Almost half of Russians positive on Lenin – poll

The founder of the Soviet Union remains a highly divisive figure 100 years after his death
Almost half of Russians positive on Lenin – poll

Almost half of Russians have a high opinion of Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, according to a poll released on Friday by the country’s Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM).

The survey, conducted ahead of the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s death, found that Russians remain sharply divided over the Communist leader’s historical legacy. Some see him as a wise ‘vozhd’ (leader) who paved the way for the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution which made society fairer, while others consider him a blood-stained tyrant whose actions led to the deaths of millions.

The October Revolution sparked a civil war in Russia, with the Bolsheviks emerging triumphant after several years of brutal fighting and uniting most of the regions of the defunct Russian Empire under their rule. In 1922, these territories were officially combined to form the Soviet Union. Lenin, who played a key role in this tumultuous period, died two years later, on January 21, 1924.

Some 47% of respondents have a “rather positive” view of Lenin while another 30% are ambivalent, according to the VCIOM poll. A further 15% have a negative opinion of the Bolshevik leader. Regarding the results of his rule, 36% believe Lenin did more good than harm to Russia, while 30% think the pros and cons balanced each other out. Of those surveyed, 19% said that his actions were mostly harmful.

Of the respondents, 24% believe the Bolshevik leader is mainly remembered as the founder of the Soviet state, while 10% see him as a calculating politician who imposed his will on a large country. Another 9% see him as a political adventurer and 7% as a thinker who saw far into the future. Only 6% think that in 50 years’ time Lenin will be seen as a brutal dictator.

Russians are not only divided on Lenin’s historical legacy, but also over whether his embalmed body – which is now kept in a mausoleum on Red Square – should be removed and buried. A third of respondents see no reason to do so, while 30% insist on immediate reburial in a cemetery. Another 27% think Lenin should be buried, but only when such a move does not cause controversy.

In 2021, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had no plans to rebury Lenin, arguing there were many more important items on the agenda.