Lenin is pop
In recent years, far more Russians think Lenin was a positive figure. So much that today they are the majority. The revisionism ongoing in Russia reaches its peak in the centenary of the October Revolution.
- Thursday, 27 April 2017
In 2006, 40% of Russians had a positive opinion on Lenin, according to the Independent Demographic Institute Levada-Center. Eleven years later, even 56% of them think the father of the Bolshevik Revolution played a positive role in the history of the country. Consequently, the number of people expressing a definite negative opinion has fallen: today, only 5% Russians. An approval rating to rival Putin’s one.
But if the retrieval of Vladimir Ilich Ulianov's image, AKA Lenin, seems to be an unstoppable phenomenon, it must be said that Russians never really had a negative opinion, not even after the fall of the Soviet Union: his ubiquitous statues stood in their place, surrounded rubble of the USSR, while fresh flowers continued to be laid at his feet. It is still the Levada-Center to reveal that only 14% of Russians would remove his mausoleum from Red Square in Moscow.
The polling institute didn’t release data by age group, but it is fair to think that in 2017 a percentage of respondents were born or raised after the Soviet era.
Vladimir vs Vladimir
The revisionism ongoing in Russia is linked to Putinism. Two famous phrases about the Soviet Union are attributed to Putin. One, according to which the fall of the USSR would have been the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century, the other for which one who does not regret the fall of the Soviet Union is heartless, but the one who believes it can be restored is brainless. These two phrases describe Putin's complex relationship with the Soviet past. And Lenin plays a special role in it. The words that the Russian President spoke on him in 2016 before the Council for Science and Technology didn’t go unnoticed. With his ideas, he said, "he led to the fall of the Soviet Union, he put a clockwork bomb under the building called Russia and it eventually collapsed."
Some believe it was an attempt to resize the bulky figure of Vladimir Ilich. A figure, however, and this survey shows it, too rooted in popular culture.
Also, a figure that cannot be separated from the very idea of USSR and the October Revolution, which this year marks its the centenary.
Revisiting the Soviet grandeur it’ impossible to ignore the sacred monsters of every Homo Sovieticus.
It is no coincidence that in surveys the liking for Lenin grows in line with that of Stalin. Always according to Levada, in a survey of two years ago, more than half of Russians think that Stalin played a positive role in the life of the country, while 24% goes to define a role "undoubtedly positive". Respondents do not deny the crimes and Purges, but for about 45% of the Russians those "sacrifices" were justified by the Soviet Union's rapid economic progress during his rule. The percentage has doubled in the previous two years.
It touches the strings of nostalgija in the elderly and provides historical revisionism for young people. And so even the bloodthirsty dictator who – because of his paranoia – caused the death of tens of millions of people, the man who did not hesitate to let his son die in the hands of the Nazis, the one who brought the Gulag system to the efficiency of the Great Terror, is increasingly being portrayed as the most patriotic among Russian patriots.