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Poll: More Than Half Of Russians See Stalin As 'Wise Leader'

A Russian communist carries a portrait of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin during a wreath-laying ceremony at his tomb to mark the 65th anniversary of his death, near the Kremlin wall in Moscow's Red Square on March 5.

A public-opinion poll in Russia has found that 57 percent of respondents view the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as "a wise leader who led the Soviet Union to might and prosperity."

The independent Russian pollster Levada Center conducted the survey on March 23-27 and published it on April 10.

Stalin's positive rating has not changed much since a similar poll in March 2016 but has been increasing since 2008, when 50 percent of Russians viewed him favorably.

Asked in the new poll to what degree they concur that Stalin was "a wise leader who led the Soviet Union to might and prosperity," 20 percent said they agreed "completely" and 37 percent said they "probably" agreed. Eight percent said they completely disagreed.

The same poll indicated that 44 percent of respondents view Stalin as "a cruel, inhuman tyrant responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people," down from 62 percent in 2016, 66 percent in 2012, and 68 percent in 2008.

Historians and Kremlin critics say that under President Vladimir Putin, the Russian authorities have sought to play down Stalin's crimes.

Arseny Roginsky, an activist who was chairman of the respected rights group Memorial and died in December 2017, accused the authorities of trying to push the memory of Stalin's abuses "to the distant periphery of the consciousness."

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