Russians blame Stalin's 'blunders' for WWII losses: poll

20th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Almost half of Russians in a recent poll blamed dictator Joseph Stalin's "blunders" for the Soviet Union's huge losses of life in World War II, Russian news agencies reported Sunday.

Forty-nine percent of respondents told the Levada polling agency that "the blunders of Stalin" were the "main reason" for massive Red Army losses in the first two years of the war, the Interfax news agency reported.

Stalin erred by purging the military of top officials, failing to prepare for combat and abandoning millions of Soviet prisoners of war, respondents said.

While hardline Stalin supporters stress the vital importance of his wartime leadership, only eight percent of respondents said that Stalin played the key role in winning the war.

An estimated 26.6 million Soviet citizens died during World War II and Russians complain that their contribution and the scale of their human suffering are underestimated by the West.

More than half of the 1,600 Russians polled in May said winning the war was "only our victory".

The poll also found widespread suspicion about the circumstances of Nazi Germany's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union.

The invasion came after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, agreeing not to use aggression against each other. Stalin received intelligence reports that the Nazis planned to break the treaty but apparently ignored them.

Forty percent of those polled said the Soviet leadership "probably" or "definitely expected" the German attack, while 51 percent disagreed.

Those who had higher education and lived in large cities were more likely to say that Soviet leaders had prior warning of the Nazi attack.

Previous polls by the Levada centre have shown a marked drop in public enthusiasm for Stalin, its director Lev Gudkov said last month.

Over the last eight years "the number of those who say they are indifferent (to Stalin) has soared from 17 percent to 47 percent," Gudkov said.

© 2010 AFP

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