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Yearning for a Strong Hand


Typical of Russian popular mentality was the deification of a supreme leader derived from the idea of the God-given power of the Russian tsars. The worship of the authorities ascribed to them the power to make wise and just decisions. The same trait was typical of the Soviet mass consciousness. The Soviet propaganda bestowed on the leaders superhuman properties: extraordinary wisdom, outstanding powers of foresight, exceptional integrity, and so on. The leaders image was free of any trace of human frailty.   


Boris Yeltsin

Vladimir Putin

A strong leader is the personification of a strong government and state, and the longing for a strong hand is typical for Russian mentality. When Russians are asked to give their views about their leaders, they tend to award higher marks to strong and authoritarian rulers. Peter the Great enjoys the highest percentage of positive evaluations. He is followed by Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Vladimir Lenin. Typically, Gorbachev and Yeltsin get the lowest marks being perceived as weak leaders.

Prioritize Factors Beneficial for Russia, (%) (VTsIOM, 2000)

Strong leader


Strong state


Cultural and spiritual revival


Revival of patriotism


Democratic institutions


Revival of traditions


Unifying national idea

Other 2
Unsure 3

The majority of Russians today longs for a strong and authoritarian ruler capable of solving the countrys current problems. Many think that the factor of a strong leader is more imperative for Russia than others, more important by far than the development of democracy or the revival of culture and traditions.

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