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By Vladimir Radyuhin
The number of people who think positively of the dictator increased by 50 per cent over the past five years.
The All-Russia Centre for Public Opinion Studies, which conducted the poll, says Stalin's popularity has been steadily growing since 1990, when people started getting disappointed with the former leader, Mikhail Gorbachev's liberal reforms. Though 58 per cent of Russians agree that Stalin's rule was a "reign of massive terror against the people of Russia,'' they still praise him for leading the Soviet Union to victory in World War Two and turning it into a superpower.
``The current resurrection of Stalin is the result of the failure of democratic reforms in Russia,'' said Prof. Saltan Dzarasov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Two-third Russians tell pollsters the last decade was the worst they could remember. Despite recent economic revival, 50 million Russians, or one in three, live below the poverty line, according to the State Statistical Board of Russia.
Pollsters say it is among the poor that Stalin is especially popular. Sensitive to the new public mood, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has revived the old Soviet national anthem and reinstated the Soviet red flag as the official banner of the Russian armed forces.
Law & order
In fact, Mr. Putin owes much of his record-breaking 80-per cent popularity to the fact that he has restored a measure of law and order associated with Stalin after a decade of chaos and disarray under the former President, Boris Yeltsin. Analysts say both the poor and the rich share a longing for an iron-fisted leader. ``The poor want a Stalin to make short shrift of their enemies, the rich, while the latter want a Stalin to keep the poor at bay,'' said Prof. Dzarasov.
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