To celebrate Europe Day in Ukraine and to drown out all that noise coming from Mikhailivsky Square I decided to go back and revisit something I wrote a few weeks ago.

I analyzed data from the most recent Omnibus Survey run by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. Every three months KIIS surveys 2,000 Ukrainians, the most recent data being from February.

Their ‘attitudes towards the EU’ question:

Please, imagine, that now is a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union. You can vote for, against or abstain from voting. What would you choose?”

Just under half (49%) of Ukrainians said they’d vote in favour of EU accession, and 28% would vote no. A few (9%) said they’d abstain, but about one in seven (14%) said they didn’t know how they’d vote.

And yes, there are regional differences, which is the point of all this:

  • Western Ukraine: 77% yes
  • Central Ukraine: 52% yes
  • South Ukraine: 36% yes
  • East Ukraine: 25% yes

If you feel like you can stop here and convince yourself that it’s all a matter of east vs west, ‘pro-Russian’ versus ‘pro-Ukrainian’ regions – please, for the love of all things holy, read on.

South

Point form.

  • There’s a divide between young and old. Almost half of 18-29 year olds (45%) and 30-39 year olds (46%) support EU accession in southern Ukraine, compared to 23% of 60-69 year olds and 12% of those older than 70.
  • There are some pretty big differences when it comes to levels of education. Those who had the highest levels of education (some level of higher education/degree) were more likely to support EU accession (46%) than those with less than ten years’ education (a whopping 6%).
  • People who indicated they were on some sort of state pension were less likely to support EU accession (22%).
  • People in the lowest of five socioeconomic brackets (those who said they ‘lack money for food’) were much less likely than those in the third (and most common) bracket (those who said they ‘have enough money for food and clothes’) to support EU accession (15% compared to 46%).
  • Self-identity as (more) Ukrainian or Russian also played a role.
    • Self-identity as Ukrainian: 41% yes
    • Self-identity as equally Russian and Ukrainian: 17% yes
    • Self-identity as Russian: 0% yes. Yes, zero – meaning that no one surveyed self-identified as Russian in south Ukraine and also supported EU accession
    • Affiliation with Kyiv Patriarchate (45% yes) compared to Moscow Patriarchate (19% yes)

East

More point form.

  • There’s also a divide between young and old. More than a third of 18-29 year olds (35%) and 30-39 year olds (41%) support EU accession in eastern Ukraine, compared to 17% of 60-69 year olds and 12% of those older than 70.
  • Education differences here too. Those who had the highest levels of education (some level of higher education/degree) were more likely to support EU accession (41%) than those with less than ten years’ education (11%).
  • People who indicated they were on some sort of state pension were less likely to support EU accession (12%).
  • Interestingly, the socioeconomic questions didn’t show any significant differences. I’ll get to that.
  • Self-identity as (more) Ukrainian or Russian again.
    • Self-identity as Ukrainian: 37% yes
    • Self-identity as equally Russian and Ukrainian: 2% yes
    • Self-identity as Russian: 7% yes.
    • Affiliation with Kyiv Patriarchate (41% yes) compared to Moscow Patriarchate (8% yes)

The survey data from eastern Ukraine also includes respondents from the ‘DNR.’ As I talked about a few weeks ago, results from the ‘DNR’ stand out pretty starkly against the rest of eastern Ukraine.

So what do the results look like if we just look at Ukrainian government-controlled eastern Ukraine?

East, sans ‘DNR’

The last bit of point form.

  • Age, yeah. Almost half of 18-29 year olds (44%) and more than half of 30-39 year olds (52%) support EU accession in eastern Ukraine, compared to 22% of 60-69 year olds and 13% of those older than 70.
  • Education. Those who had the highest levels of education (some level of higher education/degree) were more likely to support EU accession (50%) than those with less than ten years’ education (11%).
  • People who indicated they were on some sort of state pension were less likely to support EU accession (15%).
  • Take out the ‘DNR’ and socioeconomic status become significant, because statistics is fun. People in the second lowest of five socioeconomic brackets (those who said they ‘didn’t have enough money for clothes’) were much less likely than those in the third (and most common) bracket (those who said they ‘have enough money for food and clothes’) to support EU accession (24% compared to 47%).
  • Self-identity as (more) Ukrainian or Russian again.
    • Self-identity as Ukrainian: 38% yes
    • Self-identity as equally Russian and Ukrainian: 6% yes
    • Self-identity as Russian: 7% yes
    • Affiliation with Kyiv Patriarchate (44% yes) compared to Moscow Patriarchate (17% yes)

What do all these numbers mean?

There’s a lot more to Ukrainians’ attitudes towards the EU than just what part of the country they happen to be from. When almost half of young people in eastern Ukraine support EU accession, engaging in this ‘OMG pro-Russian east versus pro-Ukrainian west blah blah’ is more than just lazy oversimplification. It’s wrong.

And the factors that are associated in eastern and southern Ukraine with being opposed to EU accession? Being older. Being less educated. Being a pensioner. Being from a lower socioeconomic bracket. In other words: class, with a healthy dose of (self-) identity thrown into the mix. You know, just like that other country having a wee chat about the EU right now.  Ukraine’s not always that different, guys.

If there’s anything to take away from how I decided to spend my Saturday evening, it’s a point that’s been made before, repeated before and which, unfortunately, will need to be repeated again:

There is no magical giant line down the middle of this country that divides it into ‘pro-Russian’ and ‘pro-Ukrainian’ parts.

 Please, no more.

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