Even as Vladimir Putin pursues what many see as an effort to restore an empire centered on Moscow, polls show that ever fewer Russians regret the end of the Soviet Union – something the Kremlin leader has said was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century – and ever more back the idea of a separate and independent Russia.
According to a poll conducted by the Levada Center, the share of Russians who support the idea of an independent Russia has increased over the last year from 53 percent to 71 percent, or from just over half to nearly three out of four. And the current figure compares with 27 percent who took that position in 1998 (ng.ru/politics/2014-06-11/3_soyuz.html).
These figures are inversely related to the share of the population viewing the demise of the Soviet Union as something harmful. Sixteen years ago, 57 percent of Russians had that view; now, only 12 percent do – and only one in six of those (two percent) say that it definitely has had a negative impact.