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The dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred on December 26, 1991, more than 26 years ago.

However, communism personalities (symbols) are still displayed in many places:

Question: Why does Russia seem to praise USSR personalities almost three decades after the fall of communism?

  • 1
    Can you clarify what you mean by "Russia". Do you mean particular members of the Russian Government, or "Russian people in general". Russia the land doesn't praise anybody, as it is not a person. – James K Jan 15 '18 at 18:03
  • @JamesK - I am thinking more about the Russian Government. Most of ex-communist countries got rid of these symbols (or at least those outside some exhibitions) after the regime has fallen. This is indicated within the Wikipedia article about many of Lenin's statues (most of them were moved, removed, pulled down or damaged). – Alexei Jan 15 '18 at 18:07
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    Just look at opinion polls in Russia. Plenty of people like Stalin, still. Yeltzin and co's fucking things up in early 1990s helped that a LOT – user4012 Jan 15 '18 at 22:35
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    The body of Stalin was displayed after his death, not in modern Russia (he is buried so displaying his "body" would be quite problematic). – Anixx Jan 16 '18 at 11:05
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    Plenty of other countries venerate local "heroes" of 19th and 20th century history. Just because they are "villains" to you doesn't mean they are to the locals. – Caleth Jan 16 '18 at 15:04
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Points to consider:

  1. The Soviet block was ruled from Moscow, and (in most cases) the Communist regimes were stablished while under the occupation of the Red Army in WWII. So, even ignoring ideological issues, for the other countries their Communist regimes represented foreign control.

  2. On the other hand such control, and the dispute for global leadership during the Cold War, could represent to many Russians a period of grandeur. Compare that with the Russian defeat in WWI, critical situation at the beginnings of WWII and the crisis after the disolution of the Soviet Union. Many Russians may find that appealing, even if they are not personally fond of Communism1.

  3. The fall of the Soviet Union was hard.

    Living standards worsened for many people, pensions and salaries were low and inflation high.

    Politically, not only Russia lost control of the East Europe satellites, many lands that had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries (Ukraine, Baltic countries, Caucausus countries) got their independence. The army was practically unoperative due to lack of funding, and the international influence of Russia was almost zero2.

    That is the kind of situation that makes easy for a lot of people to remember favorably and idealize past times.

  4. Perhaps related to #1, in the countries that once were part of the Soviet Union men linked to the former stablishment kept positions of power (even if they distanced themselves from Communism). The paramount examples would be Vladimir Putin (KGB coronel) and Boris Yeltsin (President of the Russian Federative Socialist Republic). Even assuming that these men do not long for the Communist regime, they probably are not as negative about it as other people could be, and maybe they could feel threatened if a policy of "tear down everything from the old regime" was promoted.

    In the other countries of the Communist block, power went to members of the anti-Communist movements (Walesa in Poland, Havel in Czechoslovakia) who would had no ties (or not that important3) to the Communist regimes.


1Compare, for example, to the treatment of Napoleon in France.

2For example they were unable to prevent the NATO from acting against Serbian backed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

3Ion Iliescu in Romania, from example.

  • 2. What does "OTOH" mean ? – Bregalad Jan 16 '18 at 14:26
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    @Bregalad On The Other Hand; I thought it was a rather standard acronym (I could be wrong, though). – SJuan76 Jan 16 '18 at 14:34
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First, communists in Russia still enjoy quite a bit of popular support - they continuosly get ~15-17% of votes in presidential election, and about the same percentage of parliamentary seats. Compare that, for example, to Ukraine (3.8% votes in 2014 parliamentary elections and 1.5% in same year presidential election) or Poland (no representation in Parliament).

Second, quite a bit of Soviet statuary actually were taken down in Russia. Also, some objects named for communist figures were renamed, even some cities. But demolishing statues and renaming streets (or rebranding "militsiya" to "police") costs money, and with economic situation like it was in Russia during the 90s, it probably seemed inappropriate to waste funds on such non-essential tasks. Moreover, Russian government in the 90s made a big point of Russian Federation being the legal successor to the USSR. That would clash a bit with attempts to destroy the legacy of that regime. Other post-USSR countries, on the other hand, were founded on nationalist ideals, and their governments were quite committed to distancing themselves as far from their past as possible, so destroying statues was an important action to them and their electorate, and expenses were more justified in their eyes.

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