Staunton, May 19 – Fifty percent of Muscovites favor the restoration of the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky to where it had long stood in the city’s Lubyanka Square, but only one in four of such people say they favor it because of any sympathy for the Cheka founder. Far more say it is a simple act of “the restoration of historical justice,” a new Levada Center poll finds.
Most of these supporters of such a move are older, less educated, poorer and more self-identified as supporters of Vladimir Putin and the ruling party. The one in four Muscovites opposed to putting the statue back differ in both respects (levada.ru/2021/05/19/moskvichi-o-pamyatnike-dzerzhinskomu/).
On the one hand, they are younger, more educated and more self-identified as opponents of the current president and his regime and oppose putting the Dzerzhinsky statue back precisely because of what the founder of the Soviet secret police did during his lifetime and what he has come to symbolize since.
According to Levada’s Denis Volkov, the characteristic that most sets the two groups apart is whether they use the Internet. Supporters mostly don’t and rely almost exclusively on state media which promotes a positive image of the Cheka founder. Opponents in contrast do and know more about his crimes.
What is striking, the center sociologist says, is that Muscovite attitudes toward the idea of restoring the monument have changed not at all over the last five years, although over the last 15 or 20, the share of capital residents favoring the restoration of the statue has increased, while the fraction opposed to that idea has declined.
At the same time, young people are increasingly among those who do not express an opinion, an apparent indication that for them this controversial issue is of much less interest than to those taking one side or the other, Volkov suggests.
This pattern, he continues, resembles in large measure changes in Russian public opinion about Stalin. “Over the last decade the number of those who support putting up a monument to Stalin has grown and the number of Russians who are ready to recognize him as a criminal has fallen.”