Surveys commissioned by the Carnegie Endowment for The Stalin Puzzle have revealed that the figure of Stalin provokes more positive reactions than one might have expected in several countries of the former Soviet Union. Carnegie's Thomas de Waal, editor of the project, spoke to BBC World News to discuss some of the reasons behind these results. He concentrated on the two most startling facts found in the surveys: support for Stalin has risen in Russia since the first election of President Vladimir Putin, while, in Stalin’s native Georgia, approval ratings are even higher.
De Waal explained that de-Stalinization campaigns were only tried halfheartedly until many years after Stalin’s death, when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. He added that the Soviet victory in World War Two also made Stalin the great unifier, on a par with the victorious leaders of the UK and the United States. This is accentuated by a lack of alternative hero figures. While current Russian leaders do not glorify Stalin, it remains difficult for them to criticize a figure who is seen to have built a strong state, de Waal suggested.