Stalin still a hero to Russia's youth

RUSSIA'S youth admire the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin - who presided over the deaths of millions of people - and want to kick immigrants out of Russia, according to a poll released yesterday.

When asked if Stalin was a wise leader, half of the 1,802 respondents, aged from 16 to 19, agreed he was.

"Fifty-four per cent agreed that Stalin did more good than bad," said Theodore Gerber, a sociologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who presented the poll.

"Forty-six per cent disagreed with the statement that Stalin was a cruel tyrant."

Stalin built a system of terror and repression in which tens of millions of people died or were killed. He died in 1953.

"What we find troubling is that there is a substantial proportion of young people in Russia today who hold positive or ambivalent views on Stalin and his legacy," Mr Gerber said. "We think it would probably be more appropriate if there was more condemnation of the Stalin era."

The poll showed 17 per cent of the young people disagreed that Stalin was responsible for the imprisonment, torture and execution of millions of innocent people, while 40 per cent thought his role in the repression had been exaggerated.

The majority thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tragedy and two thirds saw the United States as a rival and enemy. Only a fifth viewed Iran as a rival or enemy.

Most young people also wanted immigrants kicked ou: 62 per cent said they agreed with the statement that the Russian government should evict most immigrants.

However, 64 per cent agreed with the idea that immigrants should be allowed to have Russian citizenship if they abided with the country's laws and customs.

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