Latest Survey Shows Russians Consider Putin and Stalin as the Top Two Historical Figures

Translated by Ollie Richardson


Sociologists found out who Russians consider as the most outstanding persons in history. According to the data obtained from the poll of “Levada Center” [funded by the US – ed], the most known and influential person according to Russians is Josef Stalin. In second place — the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the poet Aleksandr Pushkin. Third place on the list was taken by Vladimir Lenin, and the last, twentieth place — the former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Experts believe that Stalin’s rating is still influenced by the victory of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War, and Vladimir Putin’s popularity increased even more after the reunion of Crimea with Russia.

Josef Stalin

According to the poll, Russians consider as the most outstanding person in history the generalissimo Josef Stalin — 38% of respondents. In 2012, the “Levada Center” conducted similar research — Stalin was even more popular, 42% declared his role in the history of the country to be outstanding. It should be noted that the three of leaders of the “father of the Nation” keep their popularity since 1999.

“He’s the most controversial, paradoxical, and discussed figure, that’s why he’s first. Even if to carry out content-analysis of the journalistic works and statements on the Internet of historical figures he, probably, would be encountered the most. In a ranking of mentions he will be the first,” believes the head of department of the world literature and culture of the faculty of international journalism of MGIMO Yury Vyazemsky.

Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Pushkin

Second place in historical importance in the eyes of Russians was divided – the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the poet Aleksandr Pushkin both received 34%. However, if Pushkin has been on the list since 1989 (when the survey was conducted for the first time), Vladimir Putin entered into the top three for the first time.

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According to the estimates of sociologists, the president’s rating sharply increased in recent years. According to historian Aleksandr Dyukov, the rating of the head of state was influenced by the return of Crimea to the structure of Russia.

“It is approved by the vast majority of Russians. In addition, now there is a political confrontation on the international scene between Russia and western partners, and our victories in this are associated with the personality of Vladimir Putin, who defines the framework of foreign policy. And Pushkin — it to what we are taught at school, as well as Peter I,” noted the historian.

Vladimir Lenin

In third place is the revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (32%). However, his popularity, as the results of the poll testify, is gradually eroding. His highest rate was recorded in 1989 — 72%.

“Lenin is a positive projection of the Soviet Union, which is positively perceived by most Russians, therefore also its founding father gets high points,” believes Aleksandr Dyukov.

Historic figures

The emperor Peter I (29%), the astronaut Yury Gagarin (20%), the writer Lev Tolstoy (12%), the commander Georgy Zhukov (12%), the empress Catherine II (11%), and the poet Mikhail Lermontov (11%) also were in the top ten outstanding persons.

In twentieth place is Mikhail Gorbachev, who gained only 6%. Also on the list of the most significant persons in history were the physicist Isaac Newton, the commander Mikhail Kutuzov, the poet Sergey Yesenin, and the physicist-theorist Albert Einstein (7%).

The vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies Rostislav Turovsky noted that the list of main heroes in the consciousness of Russians was developed long ago. It is defined by attitudes towards history, culture, and school education.

“Russians have a need for a strong State and a bright, authoritative leader. For this reason, in the ranking of prominent people after the presidential election of 2012, the position of Vladimir Putin strengthened. He remains the acting President and gradually acquires the traits of a historic figure, the leader of the whole era,” said Rostislav Turovsky to “Izvestiya”.

An important role in this was played also by the actions of Russia under the leadership of the head of state. According to the expert, the reunion of Crimea with Russia is perceived by citizens as a historical fulfilment.

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The survey of the “Levada Center” took place from April 7th to April 10th, 2017. 1,600 people from 137 settlements in 48 regions of the Russian Federation took part in it. Sociologists communicated with the respondents at home.

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