1917 Revolution Still Viewed as Positive

Though den’ Revoliutsii (November 7) is no longer an official holiday (it was replaced by People’s Unity Day which is on November 4), Russian pollsters continue take an account of how Russians view the Revolution of 1917. Mosnews has provided some interesting percentages of opinion. According to a poll taken by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center (VTsIOM) 70 percent of elderly and 54 percent of younger Russians view the Revolution positively. Only 8 percent of Russians sympathize with Nicholas II, while 21 percent support the Bolsheviks. 32 percent said that both had equal mistakes and truths. The majority of respondents felt that poverty was the main cause of the Revolution.

These polls on how Russians view their past are interesting for a number of reasons. They chart the ebbs and flows of memory; memories that seem to differ by generation, social class, and political position. Communists, who are mostly elderly, are uncompromising in their support for the Bolsheviks and the Soviet project. However, the opinions of the younger generations are perhaps more interesting. The fact that 54 percent of younger Russians, though exactly what age group this means isn’t stated, shows that the Revolution continues to hold a vital place in how Russians view their history. It also suggests that to many Russians the Revolution signifies how it made Russia a modern industrial nation and superpower. Because of this, I doubt that any question about the Revolution is simply viewed in terms of the Bolshevik seizure on November 7, 1917, but how it symbolizes and influenced Russia’s historical development in the 20th century.

As a side note, Georgy Bovt of the Moscow Times gives his views on the People’s Unity Day and Revolution Day controversy.

I also recommend Alexei Pankin’s and Yelena Rykovtseva’s comments on the issue of historical memory, politics, and the holiday on Russia Profile.