Nostalgia for the Soviet Union

Nostalgia for the Soviet Union[1] (Russian: Ностальгия по СССР, romanized: Nostal'giya po SSSR) or Soviet nostalgia[2][3] is a social phenomenon of nostalgia for the Soviet era (1922–1991), whether for its politics, its society, its culture, its superpower status, or simply its aesthetics. Such nostalgia occurs among people in Russia and other post-Soviet states, as well as among people born in the Soviet Union but long since living abroad, and even among Communists and Soviet sympathizers from elsewhere in the world. It is associated with Soviet nationalism.[citation needed]

Armenians celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, 9 May 2018
People in Saint Petersburg at the Immortal Regiment, carrying portraits of their ancestors who fought in the Great Patriotic War.
Stamp of Alexei Leonov, USSR, 1967
Wall advertisement at the "Soviet Times" pub in Moscow

In 2004, the television channel Nostalgiya, its logo featuring stylized hammer-and-sickle imagery, was launched in Russia.


Ever since the fall of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, annual polling by the Levada Center has shown that over 50 percent of Russia's population lamented its collapse, with the only exception to this being in the year 2012 when support for the Soviet Union dipped below 50 percent. A 2018 poll showed that 66% of Russians regretted the fall of the Soviet Union, setting a 15-year record, and the majority of these regretting opinions came from people older than 55.[4][5]

In Armenia, 12% of respondents said the USSR collapse did good, while 66% said it did harm. In Kyrgyzstan, 16% of respondents said the collapse of the USSR did good, while 61% said it did harm.[6] A 2012 survey commissioned by the Carnegie Endowment found 38% of Armenians concurring that their country "will always have need of a leader like Stalin".[7]

A poll conducted in 2019 found that 59% of Russians believe the Soviet government "took care of ordinary people".[8] A poll conducted in 2020 found that 75% of Russians believe the Soviet era was "the greatest time" in the country's history.[9]


According to polls, what is missed most about the former Soviet Union was its shared economic system, which provided financial stability. Neoliberal economic reforms after the fall of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc resulted in harsh living standards for the general population.[10][11][12][13] Policies associated with privatization allowed much of the country's economy to fall in the hands of a newly established business oligarchy. The sense of belonging to a great superpower was a secondary reason for the nostalgia; many felt humiliated and betrayed by their experiences throughout the 1990s and blamed the upheaval on advisors from Western powers, especially as NATO moved closer into Russia's sphere of influence.[14]

According to Kristen Ghodsee, a researcher on post-communist Eastern Europe:

Only by examining how the quotidian aspects of daily life were affected by great social, political and economic changes can we make sense of the desire for this collectively imagined, more egalitarian past. Nobody wants to revive 20th century totalitarianism. But nostalgia for communism has become a common language through which ordinary men and women express disappointment with the shortcomings of parliamentary democracy and neoliberal capitalism today.[15]

According to the Levada Center poll (November 2016), the people mainly miss the Soviet Union because of the destruction of the joint economic system of its 15 republics (53%); people lost the feeling of belonging to a great power (43%); mutual distrust and cruelty have increased (31%); the feeling that you are at home in any part of the USSR was lost (30%); and connection with friends, relatives lost (28%).[16] Levada Center sociologist Karina Pipiya says that economic factors played the most significant part in rising nostalgia for the USSR in the 2018 poll, as opposed to loss of prestige or national identity, noting that a strong majority of Russians "regret that there used to be more social justice and that the government worked for the people and that it was better in terms of care for citizens and paternalistic expectations."[17] A June 2019 Levada Center poll found that 59% of Russians felt that the Soviet government "took care of ordinary people". Joseph Stalin's favorability also hit record highs the spring of that year.[8]

See alsoEdit

Communist nostalgia in EuropeEdit


  1. ^ "Why Russia Backs The Eurasian Union". Business Insider. The Economist. 22 August 2014. Often seen as an artefact of Vladimir Putin's nostalgia for the Soviet Union, the Eurasian Union has been largely ignored in the West.
  2. ^ Nikitin, V. (5 March 2014). "Putin is exploiting the legacy of the Soviet Union to further Russia's ends in Ukraine". The Independent. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015.
  3. ^ Taylor, A. (9 June 2014). "Calls for a return to 'Stalingrad' name test the limits of Putin's Soviet nostalgia". Washington Post.
  4. ^ "Ностальгия по СССР" [Nostalgia for the USSR] (in Russian). 19 December 2018.
  5. ^ Maza, Christina (19 December 2018). "Russia vs. Ukraine: More Russians Want the Soviet Union and Communism Back Amid Continued Tensions". Newsweek. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Former Soviet Countries See More Harm From Breakup". Gallup. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Poll Finds Stalin's Popularity High". The Moscow Times. 2 March 2013. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Most Russians Say Soviet Union 'Took Care of Ordinary People' – Poll". The Moscow Times. 24 June 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  9. ^ The Moscow Times (24 March 2020). "75% of Russians Say Soviet Union Was Greatest Time in Country's History – Poll". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  10. ^ Ciment, James (21 August 1999). "Life expectancy of Russian men falls to 58". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 319 (7208): 468. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7208.468a. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 1116380. PMID 10454391.
  11. ^ Men, Tamara; Brennan, Paul; Boffetta, Paolo; Zaridze, David (25 October 2003). "Russian mortality trends for 1991-2001: analysis by cause and region". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 327 (7421): 964–0. doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7421.964. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 259165. PMID 14576248.
  12. ^ Izyumov, Alexei (2010). "Human Costs of Post-communist Transition: Public Policies and Private Response". Review of Social Economy. 68 (1): 93–125. doi:10.1080/00346760902968421. ISSN 0034-6764. JSTOR 41288494. S2CID 154520098.
  13. ^ Azarova, Aytalina; Irdam, Darja; Gugushvili, Alexi; Fazekas, Mihaly; Scheiring, Gábor; Horvat, Pia; Stefler, Denes; Kolesnikova, Irina; Popov, Vladimir; Szelenyi, Ivan; Stuckler, David; Marmot, Michael; Murphy, Michael; McKee, Martin; Bobak, Martin; King, Lawrence (1 May 2017). "The effect of rapid privatisation on mortality in mono-industrial towns in post-Soviet Russia: a retrospective cohort study". The Lancet Public Health. 2 (5): e231–e238. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30072-5. ISSN 2468-2667. PMC 5459934. PMID 28626827.
  14. ^ "Why do so many people miss the Soviet Union?". The Washington Post. 21 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Dr. Kristen Ghodsee, Bowdoin College – Nostalgia for Communism". WAMC Northeast Public Radio. 1 November 2011.
  16. ^ "The Fall of the Soviet Union". 9 January 2017.
  17. ^ Balmforth, Tom (19 December 2018). "Russian nostalgia for Soviet Union reaches 13-year high". Reuters. Retrieved December 23, 2018.

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