Thursday, August 18, 2016

Generations Across Former Soviet Space Deeply Divided on the Soviet Past

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 18 – In nine of 11 former Soviet republics (Turkmenistan was not included in the surveys), majorities, sometimes sizeable ones, of those over the age of 25 say that life was better in the USSR than it has been since that time; but in all but one of the 11 – Moldova – majorities, often equally large, say life has improved since the end of Soviet times.

            These results were assembled by Sputnik information agency on the basis of polls taken by VTsIOM, M-Vector, Ipsos, Expert Fikri, and Qafqaz and have the agency says a margin of error of three percent or less (

                Among people over 35 (but under 65), the relationship between those who think Soviet times were better as compared to post-Soviet times was the following: Armenia, 71 percent to 23 percent; Azerbaijan, 69 percent to 29 percent; Russia, 64 to 28; Kazakhstan 61 to 27; Ukraine, 60 to 23; Kyrgyzstan, 60 to 30; Belarus, 53 to 28; and Georgia, 51 to 46.

            Only the over-35 residents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan said the reverse, with the relationship between 39 percent to 55 percent in the former and four percent against 91 percent in the case of the latter.

            Among those under 25, who were born “after or shortly before the collapse of the USSR,” the picture was very different. There, majorities small and large felt that life was better since 1991 than it was before that time. In Armenia, the relationship between these two positions was 48 percent to 47 percent.

            In other countries, it was 48 percent to 37 percent in Kyrgyzstan, 56 to 35 percent in Kazakhstan, 57 to 34 in Belarus, 79 to 20 in Georgia, 39 to 18 in Ukraine, 63 to 25 percent in Russia,  68 to 14 in Azerbaijan, 84 to 13 percent in Tajikistan, and 89 percent to five percent in Uzbekistan.

            With the passage of time, these poll results suggest, the younger cohorts with their views will become ever more dominant, a trend that with varying degrees of speed will mean that those who seek to whitewash the Soviet past or even revive it will face more opposition than they do at present.

            But that in turn has another less positive consequence: it means that those who hope to restore or at least glorify the Soviet past, including some current leaders like Vladimir Putin, may feel compelled to act quickly before their efforts will become truly quixotic and condemn them to marginality and defeat.  

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