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Figure of the Week: 46

August 22, 2018

As many as 46 percent of Russians “know nothing” about the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, according to a new survey.

The poll was conducted in March 2018 by the respected Levada Centre, Russia’s largest independent polling agency.

It was released on 21 August to mark the 50th anniversary of the crushing of the Prague Spring.

Asked whether the Soviet Union was right to send troops and tanks to halt the pro-democracy campaign of reforms underway in Czechoslovakia in 1968, 36 percent of respondents approved of Moscow’s decision to intervene.

Only 19 percent said the Soviet Union was wrong; 45 percent of respondents were unable to answer.

In the 18-35 age bracket, Levada Centre director Lev Gudkov said only 10 percent of respondents knew about the Prague spring.

Gudkov told The Guardian that the results show the resurgence of “Brezhnev-era propaganda, stereotypes of the Soviet period.”

The Prague Spring and its violent repression by the Soviet Union, he said, “are being forced out of the public memory.”

According to the survey, an estimated 22 percent of Russians have heard of the Prague Spring but are unable to describe the events. Another 21 percent have heard or read about the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, while only 11 percent say they have good knowledge of the events.

Regarding the causes of the Prague Spring, 21 percent of respondents blamed a “subversive action by Western countries” to split the communist bloc. Another 23 percent cited a coup attempt by anti-Soviet leaders in Czechoslovakia.

Only 18 percent of respondents described it as a “rebellion against a regime installed by the Soviet Union,” down from 31 percent in 2008.

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