More Russians Are Proud of Crimea Than Being First Country to Send a Man to Space, Poll Says

Vladimir Putin in Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) with Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice Admiral Sergei Menyailo (left) and Sevastopol head Alexei Chaliy (third left) during events marking Victory Day, in Sevastopol May 9, 2014. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

The annexation of Crimea has become a major source of national pride for Russians, even greater than the honor of being the first country to send a man into space, a poll suggests.

Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014 prompted condemnation from the West. But the Russian government celebrated the acquisition as a historic triumph and in the aftermath, President Vladimir Putin's approval reached its highest level ever in three presidential terms.

According to independent pollster Levada Center, the events of 2014 still resonate well with Russians, as 43 percent of them pointed to the "return" of Crimea to the territory of Russia as a historic event which they were proud of.

Only the Soviet Union's contribution to defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, evoked pride among more Russians (83 percent) than Crimea.

This ranks the annexation of Crimea higher than the level of pride (41 percent) Russians feel about the Soviet Union's feat of sending cosmonaut Yury Gagarin into space in 1961. Also ranking behind Crimea in the hearts of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky's compatriots is Russia's contribution to world literature, which only 36 percent of Russians felt proud of.

When asked what in history they felt most shame and hurt about, the most popular answer remained the same as it has in every such survey conducted by the Levada Center since 1999. Most Russians (54 percent) felt shame that they are "a great people with a wealthy country but living in eternal poverty and disorder."

Notably more Russians felt ashamed of the collapse of the Soviet Union (33 percent) than of the Soviet-era repressions and forced deportations (22 percent.)