Nostalgia for the Demise of the ussr in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine

in Russian Politics
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A quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its demise still has ramifications for public opinion across the postcommunist world. Using surveys conducted in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, we show that nostalgia for communism is both widespread and persistent. Across all three countries, nostalgia is concentrated among the old and less well-off and, not surprisingly, among those with Communist Party connections. Social networks and travel to other countries is relatively unimportant in shaping views of the communist past. However, despite these widespread feelings of nostalgia, they have implications for contemporary political opinions only in Belarus. Overall, the results suggest that regret for the demise of the Soviet Union will remain in postcommunist societies for some time.




Padma Desai, Conversations from Russia: Reform from Yeltsin to Putin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).


E. Gaidar, “Chastnaya Sobstvennost’ – Novyi Stereotip”, Moskovskie novosti 41, 8 October (1989): 11; Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman, Without a Map: Political Tactics and Economic Reform in Russia (Cambridge, Mass: mit, 2000).


Mikhail Gorbachev, Naedine s Soboi (Moscow: Grin Strit, 2012): 580.


Vitalii Tseplyaev, “Narod Nash ne Bydlo!” Argumenty i fakty 9, no. 3 (2011).


Gorbachev, Naedine s Soboi, 591.


Marshall I. Goldman, The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry (London: Routledge, 2003). Gorbachev, Naedine s Soboi, 602 also argued that another factor was the failure in the ‘transformation of the cpsu into a democratic party of a contemporary type’. Reform of the party had been blocked by the nomenklatura until as late as the summer of 1991, when it was agreed that a congress would be held in November at which a new program of a broadly social democratic character would have been adopted. The coup in August, and then the agreement to dissolve the ussr itself in early December, had prevented this outcome and with it any prospect of a new union treaty.


Richard Rose, Understanding Postcommunist Transformation: A Bottom-Up Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009): 27ff.


William Mishler and Richard Rose, “Generation, Age, and Time: The Dynamics of Political Learning during Russia’s Transformation”, American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 4 (2007); Rose, Mishler and Munro, Russia Transformed.


Ian McAllister and Stephen White, “Political Parties and Democratic Consolidation in Post-Communist Societies”, Party Politics 13 (2007).


Theodore P. Gerber, “Membership Benefits or Selection Effects? Why Former Communist Party Members Do Better in Post-Soviet Russia”, Social Science Research 29, no. 1 (2000); Ian McAllister and Stephen White, “The Legacy of the Nomenklatura: Economic Privilege in Postcommunist Russia”, Coexistence 32, no. 3 (1995); Stephen White and Ian McAllister, “The cpsu and its Members: Between Communism and Postcommunism”, British Journal of Political Science 26, no. 1 (1996).


But cf. Olena Nikolayenko, “Contextual Effects on Historical Memory: Soviet Nostalgia among Post-Soviet Adolescents”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 41, no. 2 (2008).


Elena Korosteleva, “Belarusian Foreign Policy in a Time of Crisis”, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 27, nos. 3–4 (2011).


Mitja Velikonja, “Lost in Transition: Nostalgia for Socialism in Post-Socialist Countries”, East European Politics & Societies 23, no. 4 (2009). See also Moonyoung Lee, “Nostalgia as a Feature of ‘Glocalisation’ of the Past in Post-Soviet Russia”, Post Soviet Affairs 27, no. 2 (2011).


  • A disaster the Soviet Union no longer exists (percent)

    ‘Do you agree with the statement: It is a disaster the Soviet Union no longer exists?’ Question wording varies slightly by country and survey. Estimates combine ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree.’

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