Among all leaders of the Soviet Union and the pre-Putin Russia, Russians are most positive about Leonid Brezhnev. As many as 56 percent of respondents praised his work and 29 percent said that they shared a negative attitude to his persona.
The top list also includes such figures as Nicholas II, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. Fifty percent of respondents said that they had a good attitude to Stalin, while 28 consider him an extremely negative persona in history. The amount of negative comments about Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin is three times as large as the number of positive opinions shared about them.
Poor ratings of Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin can be explained with the fact that people associate only destruction and poverty with them. The era of Mikhail Gorbachev ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The majority of Russians still believe that the break-up of the USSR was one of the catastrophes of the 20th century. The attitude to Boris Yeltsin worsened as a result of economic reforms of his team.
The survey was conducted by Levada Center.
Political analyst Sergei Mikheyev explained in an interview with Pravda.Ru why the Russians think of Leonid Brezhnev as the best ruler of the 20th century.
"The reason is quite simple: during Brezhnev's stay in power, life was quiet and calm. All this talk of stagnation, when they say that stagnation is awful - in my opinion, this is all far-fetched. What do ordinary citizens want? They want calm, predictable and secure life.
"During the Soviet period, Brezhnev's rule was the calmest and most predictable one. I believe that this is a very serious merit of Brezhnev. He had his flaws, and one of them, the biggest one in my opinion, is the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, but we know that this story is quite complicated.
"In general, however, life under Brezhnev was better off than in many other countries of the world. Many people say now that the Soviet Union was one of the worst countries to live in. This is nothing but an outright lie. The Soviet Union lived worse in some ways than, perhaps, five or ten most developed countries of the world. But there are 300 countries in the world, and living in the Soviet Union was better than living in 290 other countries.
"Probably, we lagged behind the United States and most developed countries in Europe on a number of indicators. But in general, the Soviet Union was a country with one of the most developed economies, one of the most developed social systems and one of the highest levels of life," said Mikheyev.
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