Press release №2329
06.04.2021
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV AND HIS ROLE IN HISTORY

IN BRIEF

  • Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the country was going in the right direction rather than the wrong direction (72%)
  • He did more harm than good (51%)
  • He thought about the country’s good but he made a number of severe mistakes (51%)
  • 93% of Russians are aware of Perestroika
  • more than half of Russians know that this period brought too many bad things to the country (64%).

MARCH 2, 2021. The data below represent the results of a survey describing the Russian opinions on Mikhail Gorbachev and the consequences of his activities to celebrate the politician’s birthday anniversary.

Mikhail Gorbachev and consequences for the country

As to the positive consequences of the Gorbachev’s activities as president, many Russians point to Glasnost and freedom of speech (9%), the beginning of Perestroika (4%) and development of international relations (3%). Thirty-seven percent of Russians think that there was nothing good (a 10-point decrease compared to 2016).

The U.S.S.R.’s collapse (36%), foreign policy in the interest of the Western countries and the U.S.A. (7%) and economic downfall (7%) are mentioned as major negative consequences.

Half of Russians consider that the Gorbachev activities brought more harm (51%); every third Russian believes that there were equally good things and bad things (32%). Forty-six percent of Russians think that Gorbachev acted in the interest of a small group of people (−5 p.p. since 2019). Seven percent of Russians think his activities served the  interests of the whole society; a further 13% say that he acted in the interest of the majority.

Who is Mikhail Gorbachev, according to Russians?

Mikhail Gorbachev is a politician who thought about the country’s good but made a number of tactical miscalculations resulted in upheavals and troubles (51%). Twenty-two percent of respondents consider that Gorbachev deliberately destroyed the country (−4 p.p. since 2019).

Russian nationwide VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on February 28, 2021. Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,600 Russians aged 18 and older. Stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of Russian landline and mobile phone numbers was used. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes to the wording of questions and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

Let us talk about Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev’s rule is hard to assess unambiguously. Can you recollect what good things were done to the country when Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the U.S.S.R.? (open-ended question, up to 5 answers, % of total respondents; answers of at least 2% of respondents)
  2016 2019 2021
Glasnost / freedom of speech 3 7 9
He initiated Perestroika 2 3 4
Development of international; relations 0 2 3
Fall of the Iron Curtain / end of the Cold War / disarmament 5 4 2
Anti-alcohol campaign 2 4 2
He opened the borders / freedom to travel abroad 1 2 2
Collapse of the USSR 1 1 2
Nothing good 47 38 37
I know nothing about Gorbachev / his activities - 4 5
What bad things did Mikhail Gorbachev do to the country?  (open-ended question, up to 5 answers, % of total respondents; answers of at least 2% of respondents)
  2016 2019 2021
Collapse of the USSR / he destroyed 36 24 36
He acted in the interest of America, the Western countries, not in the interest of the USSR  / he sold the country / foreign policy 4 8 7
Economic downfall / industrial decline / agricultural decline 4 5 7
All the activities  / he destroyed everything 8 21 6
Anti-alcohol campaign 2 6 5
Perestroika plan / wrong direction / democratization 5 5 4
Cutting down vineyards 3 4 4
Betrayal of the country /of the people 0 1 3
Dissolution / army disarmament / disarmament agreement 1 4 3
Shortage of goods / queuing / food stamps 0 3 3
Withdrawal of troops from Germany / Unification of Germany 0 3 2
Imprudent, vague politician / too many words and no deeds / softness 1 3 2
Nothing bad 9 5 4
I know nothing about Gorbachev / his activities - 3 4
In your opinion, did Gorbachev’s activities bring more good, more harm, or equally good and harm to the country? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2019 2021
More harm 54 51
Equally good and harm 32 32
More good 6 7
Don’t know 8 10
In your opinion, did Gorbachev act in the interest of the entire society or in the interest of a small group of people? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2019 2021
In the interest of a small group of people 51 46
In the interest of the minority 13 14
In the interest of the majority 11 13
In the interest of the entire society 8 7
Don’t know 17 20
In your opinion, Mikhail Gorbachev is … (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  2019 2021
A politician who thought about the country’s good but made a number of serious tactical miscalculations which led to upheavals and troubles 50 51
A criminal who deliberately and maliciously destroyed the great power 26 22
A brave person who was not afraid to  take responsibility and to carry out a number of vital reforms 10 11
Other   3 3
Don’t know 11 13
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