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Russians are nostalgic for the Soviet Union, poll shows

The good old days. Photo: Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

More than 6-in-10 Russians consider it a "great misfortune that the Soviet Union no longer exists," according to a new Pew survey. That's 13 points higher than in 2011.

The big picture: The survey reveals far more nostalgia for the Soviet Union in Russia than elsewhere in Eastern Europe. And while that sentiment is highest (71%) among those who spent most of their lives in the USSR, half of Russian 18- to 34-year-olds agree.

  • Just 22% in Russia say ordinary people have benefited from the changes since 1991, while 57% say life is worse than it was under communism.
  • Of eight former Soviet bloc countries surveyed, only Russians are growing more convinced that the economic situation was better under communism.
  • Two-thirds are dissatisfied with how democracy functions in Russia. However, strikingly small percentages of Russians say it's important that the media, opposition parties and civil society operate freely.
  • Just 40% of Russians say it's important to have regular elections. Of 16 other countries surveyed, the next lowest number is 57%, in Lithuania.

Between the lines: Vladimir Putin has played on nostalgia for the Soviet Union. But given he's been in power for 20 years, much of the dissatisfaction reflects on him.