Wednesday, September 15, 2021

By Promoting Nostalgia for Soviet Past, Russian Elite Could be Creating Its Own Nemesis, Zhelenin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – The new Levada Center poll showing that 49 percent of Russians say they would prefer to live in a political system like that which existed in the USSR before 1990 is the direct result of the pro-Stalin and pro-Soviet propaganda of the Russian elite, but this result may not be in their interest, Aleksandr Zhelenin suggests.

            The Rosbalt journalist says that the Russian elite has benefited from the current system and that the only thing it expects by promoting support for Stalin is a greater willingness to accept repression. But what the Russian people associate with the Soviet past are the social supports the state provided that they now lack (

            For the population, the Soviet system meant a time when those convicted of corruption  were shot, when medicine and education were free, when there was a powerful army and when there was unity between the party and people. At a time when there is a sense of no positive change, it isn’t surprising that the people should want to go back to the way things were.

            The current elite which has promoted this nostalgia for the Soviet past, of course, “isn’t so stupid” that it would want to return to a past when  they could not benefit as they have. For them, what matters is “general stability including the inviolability of the present political system. This is their credo.”

            For the elite, “the absence of changes in today’s Russia is viewed as a guarantee of its comfortable future.” But the people clearly want something else and who increasingly recognize that the current elite will only give them more repression rather than a return to a Soviet-style social state may begin to demand it.

            Handouts of the kind Putin has been distributing won’t be enough, Zhelenin says; and the question as to how the population and the elite will coexist is thus “one of the questions, the answer to which perhaps will be given in the not-so-distant future.” Indeed, it is likely to overshadow almost every other issue.


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