The FINANCIAL -- It has been more than two decades since the Soviet Union fell, and Georgia has experienced a great deal of hardship and success independent of their previous comrades to the north. Still, the large majority of Georgians can remember a time when Lenin paintings hung in their schoolhouses, and only those under the age of thirty have no memories of wearing a Pioneer scarf. With the Georgian SSR in the living memory of so many, do Georgians still feel Soviet? Even a little?
We at GORBI, the Georgian member of Gallup International, conducted one of our omnibus surveys last month (January 2014) which, as always, contained a variety of thought-provoking questions. Among other interesting questions, we asked Georgians the following: “Although the Soviet Union no longer exists, some people still think of themselves as Soviets; others have stopped thinking of themselves in those terms. To what extent would you say you think of yourself as a Soviet: a great deal, somewhat, very little, or not at all?”
Not surprisingly, the youth don’t feel particularly Soviet. Only 7% of those aged 21 and under said they felt “somewhat” Soviet; the rest felt either “very little” (7%) or “not at all” (86%). As you can see in the included table, the number of “self-identifieds” grows steadily with each age group. A full 37% of the oldest Georgians still maintain part of the soviet identity they’ve had for a majority of their lives. In total, about a quarter of Georgians feel at least somewhat soviet.
Expecting that these soviet sympathies would be related to attitudes on relations with Russia, I also ran the numbers for the question “Some people feel that it is important for us to try to cooperate more with Russia while others believe we should be much tougher in our dealings with Russia. Where would you place yourself on this scale? [cooperate more 1 – 7 get tougher]” While I was right in finding a correlation, it wasn’t nearly as strong as I expected – a spearman’s rho coefficient of .153 is not astoundingly high, despite perfect significance.
As you can see on the table, older Georgians are a bit more in favor of cooperation than the youngest cohort, with a mean of 2.6. Even with the youngest folks closer to the neutral center of 4, the country as a whole seems very clear in their desire for building international rapport.
One last point of minor interest: this question inexplicably received one of the lowest non-response rates I’ve seen in my time at GORBI. We normally see more than one in ten respondents decline to answer a given question, often more, including in response to the rest of the questions on this survey. Self-assessed “Sovietness” seems to be something easier to answer for Georgians: only 3% of the sample answered “don’t know” or “no answer.”
This nationwide poll surveyed 1023 Georgians and has a margin of error of ~3% with 95% confidence.
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