Data from two big surveys has come out right before Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24.
- The Institute of sociology of Ukraine, part of Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 1,800 Ukrainians in June and July 2016
- The Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, surveyed more than 2,000 Ukrainians earlier this month
Both surveys only spoke to residents of territories currently controlled by the Ukrainian government (i.e., no one from Crimea or the “DNR/LNR” took part).
I’ve taken a look at both of them and made some notes and some stunningly mediocre Word charts.
The future of Ukraine
When it comes to what they feel about the future of their country, it’s a mixed bag of emotions for Ukrainians.
While almost half (44%) of Ukrainians in the June/July poll said that felt hope when they think about the future of Ukraine, almost as many (38%) said they felt anxiety while almost one in four (23%) said they felt fear for their country’s future.
These emotions have changed over the last ten years. Not surprisingly, anxiety is higher now than it was before 2013 (though it’s flattened out a bit since then) and fear for the future of Ukraine is higher, though this has been relatively stable since 2013.
The regional breakdowns are pretty interesting and run a little bit counter to what I was expecting:
- Hope for the future of Ukraine is highest in Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, in government-controlled Ukraine) at 56%, but lowest right next door in eastern oblasts (Dnipro, Zaporizhia and Kharkiv oblasts) at 38%.
- So the most hopeful Ukrainians are the ones closest to – and living in – a war zone?
- Optimism about the future of Ukraine is lowest in Donbas (9%) and highest in central Ukraine (26%).
- People in Donbas, it seems, are hopeful but not too optimistic about the future.
- Anxiety is highest in eastern oblasts (44%) and Donbas (40%) but lowest in central Ukraine (31%)
- Fear is also higher in eastern oblasts (30%) and southern Ukraine (25%) but lowest in western Ukraine (19%), central Ukraine (21%) and 22% in Donbas.
The age breakdowns weren’t that noteworthy IMO – have a look for yourself. I’d like to see breakdowns and analysis for other factors, like socio-economic status, rural/urban, level of education, employment status, etc., etc., etc.
The status of Russian in Ukraine?
Support for the Russian language having official status in Ukraine dropped to its lowest level ever in this series of surveys (30%).
They didn’t provide any breakdowns for this, but I suspect the regional one would be in part what we’d expect (e.g., higher support in eastern Ukraine/Donbas), as well as with older Ukrainians.
Changing social attitudes (and some that change, then quickly change back)
While Ukrainian attitudes towards introducing the death penalty and isolating people with AIDS (!!) have declined since 1991, the same can’t be said for disapproval of premarital sex, homosexuality and the influence of western culture. While disapproval of premarital sex and the influence of western culture are largely the same as they were in 1991, barely over a quarter (27%) of Ukrainians think homosexuals should be treated equally, compared to 34% at the time of Ukraine’s independence.
There was only one regional breakdown given for these questions: western culture was more likely to be perceived as a negative influence in Donbas (49%), southern Ukraine (43%) and eastern Ukraine (39%) than in central Ukraine (29%) or western Ukraine (14%).
This Stalin guy again
Lastly, some Ukrainians still seem to like this Stalin guy, but the love has dropped off to 1991 levels – less than a third (30%) of Ukrainians think that Stalin was a great leader.
The regional breakdown is what I’d expect based on previous Stalin questions, save for Donbas. Almost half (46%) of people in eastern Ukraine thought Stalin was a great leader, compared to 43% in southern Ukraine, 31% in central Ukraine, 20% in Donbas and 13% in central Ukraine.
Still, I’d want to look deeper into the data, particularly at age, socio-economic status, other attitudes, etc., before painting almost half of eastern Ukraine with a broad fond-of-Stalin brush. It’s obviously beyond the scope of this survey but I’d also like to hear from some of these people themselves about why they think Stalin was a great leader. Soviet nostalgia? The feeling that Ukraine needs a super-strong leader in turbulent times? Propaganda?
In conclusion, Ukraine is a land of contrasts. Thank you.
Seriously though, the overarching conclusion I’d draw is this: whatever direction attitudes in post-Maidan Ukraine are moving, we need to dig deeper into data like this to really understand why. Four or five-way regional breakdowns aren’t going to cut it.