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The Impact of Social and Political Changes on Survivors of Political Persecutions in Rural Russia and Ukraine



Differences in depressive symptoms and attitudes about political and social changes were examined for individuals with and without family histories of Stalinist persecution in several small villages in Russia and Ukraine. In a sample of 422 villagers, there were 37 family members of survivors of Stalinist purges. In comparison to villagers with no family history of persecution, those who had such history perceived their social life with other villagers and their life in general to be much improved in the late 1990s. They also reported much lower levels of depression than those without a history of persecution. Differences that were discovered could not be accounted for by demographic characteristics of the respondents. The results suggest that individuals with a history of family trauma related to political persecution may perceive their environment as more positive as a result of political changes and may cope with political transitions differently than persons who have no history of family persecution.