Seven statistics for Ukraine-watchers

Seven statistics for Ukraine-watchers

As Ukrainians remember the bloodiest days of the revolution three years ago, I’ve gone back into the last few months of poll/survey data and pulled out a few numbers that I think are worth keeping in mind, particularly for westerners and outsiders like me who are desperately trying to understand: what do Ukrainians think?

1. Barely anyone thinks life’s got better since Euromaidan

Some discomfiting numbers from a Sofia poll in November – 82% of Ukrainians think their lives have gotten worse since Euromaidan (29% ‘a little worse’; 53% (!!) ‘much worse’). Only 5% think life has improved.

2. Most Ukrainians think the country’s going in the wrong direction

From the same Sofia poll – 73% of Ukrainians think the country’s going in the wrong direction (30% ‘generally in the wrong direction’; 43% ‘definitely in the wrong direction’.

3. Barely anyone trusts the President, Rada, political parties or any politician at all, for that matter

And it’s gotten worse. As I wrote in December about a Razumkov Centre and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation year-end poll:

“…trust in the president (49% in 2014 to 24% in 2016) and in the Rada (31% to 12%) has tanked while trust in political parties (11% in 2016) is even lower. I haven’t graphed it out here but there’s obviously also been a corresponding increase in those who say they distrust the President (44% 2014: 69% 2016), the Rada (57% 2014: 81% 2016) and political parties (71% 2014: 78% in 2016). Keep in mind too that not a single individual Ukrainian politician is more trusted than distrusted (pages 5 and 6, question 7), so, ouch.”

4. Barely anyone’s satisfied with the President, Rada, etc.

In the aforementioned Sofia poll in November, 75% of Ukrainians disapproved of the job Poroshenko’s doing, and in a Rating poll from December 82% of Ukrainians surveyed said they were dissatisfied with him. The numbers from Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman and Speaker of the Rada Andriy Parubiy aren’t much better – 78% and 82% dissatisfied, respectively.

5. Some Ukrainians  still say the Euromaidan was ‘an illegal armed coup’, though most disagree 

This was a fascinating survey by KIIS for Detektor Media trying to unpack the influence of Russian propaganda in Ukraine. One of the tropes we’re all familiar with is that Euromaidan was totally some kind of Nazi-fascist-Junta-Banderite-Victoria Nuland’s cookies-Soros-Obama-NATO-CIA-drugged tea-EU coup (take your pick), and a good number of Ukrainians, it seems, buy it…34% of Ukrainians across the country agreed with the statement that ‘the events of 2014 in Kyiv were an illegal armed coup’, with numbers higher in the south (51%) and east (57%).

On the other hand, most Ukrainians (56%) agreed that ‘the events of 2014 in Kyiv were a peoples’ revolution’, with numbers highest in the west (81%) and centre (61%) of the country.

Weirdest, though, are the 9% of people who said ‘the events in Kyiv’ were both an ‘illegal armed coup’ and ‘a peoples’ revolution’. Yeah, I don’t get that.

6. Ukrainians don’t feel all that comfortable with their personal/family financial situations

A more recent poll from Rating showed that “half of…respondents considered their family’s financial status to be unsatisfactory whilst only 15% deemed that they had satisfactory finances for life, and one-third declared themselves to be at poverty level. The highest number of poor people being recorded in the East, among older people and those with a low education level.” [my bold]

7. Are there any silver linings here at all or just a list of depressing statistics?

Here’s an attempt to find a relevant silver lining from the Razumkov Centre and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation‘s year-end poll – the new patrol police are more trusted than mistrusted (46% trust, 41% mistrust), and the old militsiia are a bit less mistrusted than they used to be (23% trust in 2016, 11% in 2015 and 16% in 2014).

Feel free to look through the polls I’ve linked to here and tell me what you think I’ve missed.



Trust, lack thereof and everything in between: end-of-year Ukraine poll

Trust, lack thereof and everything in between: end-of-year Ukraine poll

I found a few interesting things in the Razumkov Centre and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation‘s new poll this week (in Ukrainian).

[usual preamble: polling done from December 16 through 20th in only government-controlled areas of Ukraine (i.e., no Crimea, no “DNR/LNR”), 2,000 respondents 18+, MoE 2.3%. Graphs below are mine, which mean any errors are likely mine]

1. Trust for some, not-particularly-high-levels-of-trust for others

Razumkov/DIF has asked Ukrainians for while now how much they trust a number of social institutions, from the President to the armed forces to NGOs (pages 13 through 15 of the PDF, in the back, for anyone following along at home). I’ve picked out a few from the 25-or-so list below.


These figures should (should) be worrying to anyone at the Bankova or the Rada – trust in the president (49% in 2014 to 24% in 2016) and in the Rada (31% to 12%) has tanked while trust in political parties (11% in 2016) is even lower. I haven’t graphed it out here but there’s obviously also been a corresponding increase in those who say they distrust the President (44% 2014: 69% 2016), the Rada (57% 2014: 81% 2016) and political parties (71% 2014: 78% in 2016). Keep in mind too that not a single individual Ukrainian politician is more trusted than distrusted (pages 5 and 6, question 7), so, ouch.

But who do Ukrainians trust more than their politicians? The armed forces, volunteer battalions, the National Guard, volunteer organizations and churches, not to mention Ukrainian media. Hmm.

2. We shall overcome, eventually

Ukrainians are less likely now than in 2014 to think the country’s “difficulties” (“труднощі” – native speakers, yell at me if there’s a better translation) will be overcome in the next few years, but I’d chalk this up more to realism than downright pessimism – the percentage of Ukrainians who say the country won’t be able to overcome its difficulties at all hasn’t significantly changed since 2014.


3. Optimists, pessimists and everyone in between

Buried way in back on page 14 of the PDF are some stats on whether a series of situations (24 of them) have got better, worse or stayed the same over the past year. I’ve picked a few below from both times DIF/Razumkov have asked the question.


Not too many Ukrainians felt things have got better over 2015 and 2016, but what’s most striking to me here is the percentage of Ukrainians who think the country’s international image hasn’t got better over 2016.

(I’ve drawn up the “worse” and “stayed the same” graphs separately, largely so I didn’t have to produce one graph with an absolute rainbow of shit in it.)

What do people think has got worse? Ukraine’s international image, for one, alongside social protection and the situation in Ukraine as a whole.


The “stayed the same” graph makes sense once you’ve seen the better/worse graphs but on its own here is pretty much useless. Whatever.


I’m not too surprised by much here, except the “Ukraine’s international image” question. What were respondents thinking exactly when they answered this?

4. Party time!

I’ve drawn up some graphs of party ratings over 2016 in DIF/Razumkov’s polls as well as KIIS’s polls for comparison.

I’ve included major (generally +5%) parties plus those scary right-wing parties that inherently must accompany any discussion of Ukrainian politics in English regardless of whether it feels like some of these parties could fit all their voters on a couple of school buses.



Batkivshchyna’s gone up some, BPP and Samopomich have gone down some, the Opposition Bloc may have dropped a bit, Lyashko’s Radical Pitchforker Party’s generally stayed the same and Svoboda and the other three Peoples’ Front of Judaea sects are wheezing after participation ribbons. That’s about it.

I think the bigger story here – and what I’d personally like to focus on more as I nerd around with polls like these and raw data sets in 2017 – is that more Ukrainians say they don’t know who they’re going to vote for, and even more (depending on the survey) say they won’t vote at all. Yeah, looking at the jockeying and horseracing from all these parties-spun-off-from-other parties and renamed-and-renamed-again parties tells us something, but it doesn’t tell us enough. Who isn’t voting? Why? Who doesn’t know who they’re going to vote for? Why? Do their social/political attitudes differ from decided voters? And so on.


August 2016 poll: Electoral Moods in Ukraine

August 2016 poll: Electoral Moods in Ukraine

It’s “Electoral Moods in Ukraine” time.

The usual preamble:

  • Poll by sociological group “Rating”
  • 2,000 Ukrainians, all 18+, representative of age, gender, region and type of settlement. MoE 2.2%.
  • Face-to-face interviews
  • Interviews done August 18-23, 2016

Screenshots are all from the original presentation in Ukrainian.

Verkhovna Rada elections

Among Ukrainian voters who a) intend to vote and b) have decided who they’re voting for, Batkivshchyna leads the way with 18% of respondents, followed by the Opposition Bloc at 13%, followed by both Samopomich and the Radical Party at 11%.

2016-08-31 11.19.28

While Batkivshchyna’s support seems to have gone up a bit over the last year from 13% a year ago (see below), I’m not sure how much we can actually read into this; they might be benefiting somewhat from Bloc Petro Poroshenko’s popularity plummeting (9%), but the same could be said for the Opposition Bloc or Lyashko’s Radical Party.

2016-08-31 11.19.53

Regardless, I wouldn’t chalk these figures up to a surge in support for Batkivshchyna and Yulia Tymoshenko. Consider the fact that, of all voters intending to vote (regardless of whether they know which party they’d vote for), more voters selected ‘don’t know’ (18%) than Batkivshchyna (15%) or indeed any party.

One party of course that’s not benefiting from this is Svoboda. Everyone’s favourite far-right bogeyman party still looks barely able to break the 5% threshold, if at all and the even scarier Pravyi Sektor bogeyman is barely on anyone’s radar.

Looking for a far-right populist surge in Europe? You won’t find it in Ukraine.

Presidential elections

The numbers look pretty similar when it comes to presidential elections.  Among Ukrainian voters who a) intend to vote and b) have decided who they’re voting for, Tymoshenko leads with 18% of respondents, followed by the Opposition Bloc’s Yuriy Boyko at 12%, and Poroshenko himself at 10%. Still, almost one in five (19%) of respondents said they’d vote for another candidate not on the list – which to me is a proxy for ‘I don’t know’ – so I don’t think Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna should be patting themselves on the back quite yet for nipping at None of the Above’s heels.

2016-08-31 11.20.23

Looking at the data over time here it’s much the same story as above. Tymoshenko’s doing marginally better as Poroshenko’s popularity nosedives, but so are people like Boyko, Lyashko and, yes, Nadia Savchenko.

2016-08-31 11.20.45

(Also I’m not sure why ‘other candidate’ is 19% in the main table and 17% in the table below. I don’t have the raw data but I assume there’s a weighting/stats reason for it.)

And, of course, look at the numbers for Tyahnybok (4%) and Yarosh (2%). Looking for a far-right president? Not here. Go to Austria.

Trust in politicians?

I’ll just put this here, sans much in the way of editorial comment.

2016-08-31 11.16.43

What’s happened to Nadia Savchenko?

It looks like the post-release honeymoon is over. Alongside being part of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, some of the comments Savchenko’s made over the last few months (e.g., on holding direct talks with “DNR”/”LNR” leaders) look like they’ve rubbed some Ukrainians the wrong way. Just look at how much trust in her has fallen after just two months.

2016-08-31 11.16.09

Also worth noting:

  • Almost a third of respondents (31%) said their attitude towards her had deteriorated since her release
  • Over a third (34%) think she should go back to being a fighter pilot, compared to 24% just two months ago.
  • Of those who’d heard some of her recent statements, almost half (49%) didn’t agree with them – 55% didn’t agree with her comments on amnesty for “DNR”/”LNR” fighters

If she’s going to live up to the hype and Joan of Arc expectations that were foisted on her she’s got a tough road ahead of her.

Poll: Savchenko the most trusted political figure in Ukraine

Poll: Savchenko the most trusted political figure in Ukraine

Nadia Savchenko is the most trusted political figure in Ukraine, according to a new Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) poll.

Savchenko is the most trusted and least mistrusted political figure in Ukraine, but she’s also the political figure Ukrainians know the least about: 31% of them said it was ‘hard to say’ when they were asked to state whether they trusted her or not.

The level of trust in Savchenko as a politician varies across regions (below) but as I’ll explain there’s a lot of comparing-apples-to-oranges business going on with these numbers.

Nadia Savchenko Do not trust Trust Hard to say Don’t know
Ukraine 32.7 35.0 30.8 1.4
West 20.0 53.4 25.7 0.9
Central 36.5 35.5 27.6 0.3
South 29.8 26.2 38.7 5.3
East 35.3 21.3 40.9 2.5
Donbas (UA-gov’t controlled only) 63.6 10.1 26.4 0.0

Even in those regions where trust looks like it’s lower in Savchenko, it’s still actually quite high in comparison to other politicians:

  • In south Ukraine, she’s the fourth least mistrusted on the list (out of 25 names) and the third most trusted.
  • In east Ukraine, she’s also the fourth least mistrusted, and the fifth most trusted.

…and those Donbas numbers. Yeah, those definitely threw me for a loop at first.

But comparing trust in politicians in Donbas compared to other parts of Ukraine is the real clever fruit-related-comparison metaphor here, and that’s because people in Donbas barely trust anyone on that list.

That’s why, when you compare Savchenko’s level of trust in Donbas to her peers, she’s actually the sixth-least mistrusted (out of 25, remember) and, despite how low that 10.1% looks, she’s actually the third-most trusted politician in Donbas. So, yeah.

What’s good for Nadia Savchenko? A lot more Ukrainians trust her than any of her peers.

What’s not so good? A lot of people still say they don’t trust her (whether that’s a symptom of Ukrainians’ general sense of cynicism and mistrust in the political class or something specifically about her, I don’t know), and a lot of people don’t know very much about her – yet.

On some recent polls in Ukraine

On some recent polls in Ukraine

Two polls of Ukrainians have come out recently. I figured I’d take a look at them.

Trust, and the lack thereof

Look at the most recent poll done May 11-16 by the Democratic Initiative fund and the Razumkov Centre and it’s a bit obvious: Ukrainians’ trust in their public institutions is really low.

  • President Poroshenko’s balance between trust and distrust (i.e., the percentage of those who trust him minus those who distrust him) has actually dropped from +5 only a year and a half ago (…food for thought now that Nadiya Savchenko is finally back in town)
  • Trust in the Rada is low, but it’s actually improved since December 2015 (-74%)
  • Only one in ten Ukrainians trust the courts or the prosecutor’s office


On the flip side, Ukrainians’ trust in the police has shot up dramatically – more than 50% in under a year:

  • July 2015: -57% trust/distrust
  • December 2015: -24%
  • May 2015: -5%
Some of Ukraine’s (trusted) new police officers. (

This is a success story that can’t get lost, even amidst all the minus signs in the big table below.

May 11-16, 2016 Do not trust Tend not to trust Tend to trust Fully trust Difficult to answer Don’t trust (total) Trust (total) Balance
President of Ukraine 40% 30% 19% 4% 7% 70% 23% -48%
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine 48% 32% 13% 1% 6% 79% 14% -65%
Government of Ukraine (newly appointed) 41% 29% 15% 2% 14% 70% 16% -54%
Armed Forces of Ukraine 15% 19% 44% 12% 11% 34% 55% 22%
National Guard of Ukraine 15% 18% 40% 13% 15% 33% 53% 20%
Police 20% 25% 34% 6% 16% 44% 40% -5%
Security Service of Ukraine 27% 28% 27% 4% 14% 55% 31% -24%
Local authorities 23% 30% 33% 5% 10% 53% 38% -15%
Courts 52% 29% 8% 1% 10% 81% 9% -72%
Prosecutor 52% 28% 9% 1% 10% 80% 10% -70%
Church 13% 14% 37% 23% 13% 27% 60% 33%
Mass media of Ukraine 19% 26% 39% 7% 9% 45% 46% 1%
Mass media in Russia 63% 22% 3% 1% 11% 86% 3% -82%
Public organizations 15% 20% 37% 8% 19% 35% 46% 11%
Volunteers 10% 12% 39% 17% 22% 22% 56% 34%
Banks 44% 28% 13% 3% 12% 72% 16% -57%

Another Razumkov Center’s poll from the end of April doesn’t show anything too different:

  • Just under seven in ten people don’t trust President Poroshenko
    • …and now he’s got a Savchenko factor to worry about
  • Eight in ten don’t trust the Rada
  • Three-quarters don’t trust Volodymyr Groysman’s new government

Even worse, trust in the public prosecutor’s office is extremely low, almost as low as trust in Russian media, as is trust in the state apparatus as a whole. If your state institutions are are as trusted as Russian media, you’ve got problems.

But Ukrainians generally trust volunteer organizations, the Armed Forces and the church. They also trust volunteer battalions (interestingly), the National Guard and the new police.

April 22-26, 2016 Do not trust Tend not to trust Tend to trust Fully trust Difficult to answer Don’t trust (total) Trust (total) Balance
President of Ukraine 37% 32% 22% 3% 7% 69% 25% -45%
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine 46% 34% 14% 1% 5% 80% 15% -66%
Government of Ukraine 44% 31% 15% 1% 9% 75% 16% -59%
Public prosecutor’s office 52% 32% 9% 1% 6% 84% 10% -74%
Police 34% 31% 22% 3% 10% 65% 25% -41%
State apparatus (government officials) 50% 38% 7% 1% 6% 88% 8% -80%
Courts 54% 29% 9% 2% 6% 83% 11% -73%
Armed Forces of Ukraine 14% 16% 50% 12% 8% 30% 62% 32%
Ukraine National Guard 15% 17% 44% 13% 10% 32% 57% 25%
Volunteer battalions 17% 13% 41% 17% 11% 30% 58% 28%
Police patrol (new) 15% 18% 36% 8% 23% 33% 44% 11%
Anti-corruption bureau 30% 26% 18% 4% 23% 56% 22% -34%
Security Service of Ukraine 31% 24% 28% 4% 14% 55% 32% -24%
Regional (oblast) administrations 29% 35% 24% 1% 11% 64% 25% -38%
Regional (raion) administrations 26% 34% 26% 2% 13% 60% 28% -31%
Local governments 24% 27% 34% 4% 12% 51% 38% -13%
National Bank of Ukraine 52% 29% 10% 1% 9% 81% 11% -69%
Commercial banks 52% 31% 9% 1% 7% 83% 10% -73%
Media Ukraine 21% 27% 40% 4% 7% 48% 44% -4%
Russian media 58% 26% 6% 1% 10% 84% 7% -77%
Western media 26% 26% 25% 3% 20% 52% 28% -24%
Trade unions 27% 31% 20% 3% 20% 58% 23% -35%
Church 13% 16% 41% 20% 11% 29% 61% 32%
Political parties 44% 34% 9% 1% 12% 78% 10% -69%
NGOs 15% 23% 42% 5% 15% 38% 47% 9%
Volunteer organizations 11% 13% 50% 14% 12% 24% 64% 40%

What should we make of the fact that Ukraine’s Armed Forces, police, National Guard and even its volunteer battalions are more trusted than the institutions of government?

Coup, junta, fascists, Nazis…whatever, the pieces are there. Make your own RT/Sputnik headline

…because both these polls give us more evidence of that propaganda trope being a festering pile of shit.

In the poll from April 22-26, 5.5% of voters said they’d vote for a far-right party in the Rada (4.8% Svoboda, 0.7% Pravyy Sektor, and [drumroll] a whopping 0.0% for Dmytro Yarosh’s National Movement. Guess he’d better print more business cards.

Worse still for these guys, Oleh Tyahnybok (whose name I will never be able to spell unassisted) and Dmytro Yarosh each were the favoured presidential candidate of 1.6% of Ukrainians.

So, combined 3.2% of Ukrainians said they’d vote for a far right presidential candidate. Much lower than Austria’s 49%.

In the poll from May 11-16, 6.1% of voters said they’d vote for a far-right party in the Rada (3.6% Svoboda, 1.8% for Dmytro Yarosh’s National Movement and 0.7% Pravyy Sektor).

(Buuuuut OMG why 1.8% here and 0.0% a few weeks earlier for Yarosh OMG?? It’s within the survey’s margin of error. Settle down.)

Please throw these figures at the next troll you see.

“Yeah, but how does Ukraine make you feel?

The May poll asked Ukrainians what feelings they experience when they think about the future of Ukraine (I’ve included the original Ukrainian if any fluent/native speakers would translate the word differently).

May 11-16, 2016 (Original) December 2015 May 2016
Optimism Оптимізм 20% 16%
Indifference Байдужість 3% 4%
Joy Радість 1% 1%
Hopelessness Безвихідь 17% 19%
Certainty Упевненість 5% 5%
Perplexity Розгубленість 18% 22%
contentment Задоволеність 1% 2%
Pessimism Песимізм 9% 15%
Hope Надія 39% 35%
Anxiety Тривога 39% 39%
Interest Інтерес 5% 7%
Fear Страх 15% 20%
Other Інше 1% 2%

On the one hand, it’s worrying to see almost two in five Ukrainians say they feel anxious about the future, let alone one in five saying they feel hopeless and/or fearful about the future.

On the other hand, that надія (which, yes, even I can figure out without a dictionary) is…well, hopeful.

If 35 percent of people in this country can say something like “yeah, I feel hopeful about the future,” in spite of everything that’s gone on here, then I should be hopeful too, right?

Rampant corruption tests Ukrainians’ patience

(latest in the Winnipeg Free Press)

This month marks the second anniversary of Ukraine’s bloody revolution on the Maidan, but no one’s in a mood to celebrate.

“People here are in a state of total depression,” a friend told me this week from Kyiv. “People are frustrated. Nobody sees any prospects here.”

The statistics back this up. One poll released in January showed Ukrainians are feeling worse about the future than ever before. The percentage of Ukrainians who reported being satisfied with their standard of living dropped 10 per cent in 2015. More than one-third of Ukrainians reported they felt they were “suffering” — the highest among all post-Soviet countries surveyed — alongside less than 10 per cent who said they were “thriving.”

“I think the main cause of this depression isn’t the war,” my friend said. “It’s the government. We have the same problems as before: corruption and bribery.”

Take a look at what Ukraine’s government has done in the last few weeks and it’s easy to see why Ukrainians are so frustrated.

Earlier this month, the economy minister was the latest in a wave of reformers to resign. He accused President Petro Poroshenko’s right-hand man of standing in the way of anti-corruption reforms and trying to take control of the ministry to oversee sales of lucrative state-owned energy assets.

Last week, Poroshenko looked like he was taking a stand when he called for the resignation of the prosecutor-general, a man who hasn’t pursued a single high-profile, anti-corruption case in his tenure. Problem is, no one is sure right now whether he’s actually resigned, or just gone on vacation — by law, Ukrainian officials can’t be fired if they’re on vacation.

Poroshenko also called for the resignation of unpopular Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a man who’s long been accused of protecting the interests of Ukraine’s wealthy oligarchs and dragging his feet on anti-corruption reforms.

But while Ukraine’s parliament passed a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with Yatsenyuk and his cabinet, the vote to oust him from power failed. Three dozen MPs from Poroshenko’s party curiously decided not to vote in favour of ousting the prime minister, even though they’d voted for the resolution just 15 minutes earlier. A backroom deal had apparently been reached to keep Yatsenyuk in office, and the hands of Ukraine’s wealthy oligarchs were all over it, keen on keeping their exclusive access to the corridors of power.

Ukraine’s government will find itself in deep trouble if it doesn’t take the fight against corruption and the power of the oligarchs more seriously. The International Monetary Fund has told the government its four-year, US$17.5-billion bailout could be withdrawn unless meaningful anti-corruption reforms are put in place. A $1.7-billion tranche of that funding has been withheld since October, waiting for reforms that haven’t happened yet.

Ukraine’s economy is already struggling, and without western assistance, it will crumble. Even with western assistance, Ukraine’s economy contracted by 10 per cent in 2015, and the value of the hryvnya, its currency, keeps plunging. But, as Glib Vyshlinsky of Kyiv’s Centre for Economic Strategy told Agence France-Presse: “There are no other sources of foreign assistance. Turning to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is not an option.”

But without anti-corruption reforms, and without help and pressure from the West, there’s a real risk Ukraine will fall back into the Kremlin’s nihilistic, kleptocratic orbit and the revolution on the Maidan will have been for nothing — exactly what Putin wants.

It’s worrying then many Ukrainians feel like nothing has changed.

“Everything’s starting to be just like it was before,” another friend from western Ukraine said. “Everybody is so tired of all this. People are just trying to survive.”