In the Thick of It

A blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
1980s Moscow

Polling Suggests Soviet Nostalgia Isn’t Going Away

March 27, 2020
RM Staff

How much do Russians miss the USSR and how many of them would like Russia to emulate Soviet ways?

The Levada Center has been tracking answers to these questions for 28 years and its latest poll shows 65 percent of Russians regret the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Although this number has decreased by 1 percent from the previous year’s data, this response still represents a significant increase from a low of 49 percent in 2012 (See Table 1). Three-quarters of Russian respondents agreed to some extent that “the Soviet epoch was the best time in the history of our country, with a high level of welfare and opportunities for common citizens.” Such a strong fondness for the Soviet epoch is especially remarkable given that the percentage of Russia’s adult population with concrete memories of the Soviet Union keeps decreasing—about 35 percent of Russia’s current population was born since 1991 according to U.N. estimates.

Levada polls also show that almost thrice as many Russians want their country to “return to the path taken by the Soviet Union” than to “take the path of European countries.” The most popular option by far, however, is for Russia to take its own unique path (See Chart 1). The popularity of this “third-way” is not surprising, given Russia’s recent estrangement from the West and the Kremlin’s efforts to cultivate the notion of Russia’s civilizational uniqueness. While overwhelmingly in favor of Russia taking its “own unique path,” Russians are split on whether the country is headed in the right direction. The latest Levada poll shows that 48 percent of Russians think Russia is being led in the right direction while 42 percent think the opposite (Table 3). At the same time, however, the majority of Russians continue to approve of Putin’s work in leading the country (Table 4).

Photo by Ceri C shared under a CC BY 2.0 license.