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.

Taking issue with the OSCE SMM’s report on IDPs in Ukraine

Taking issue with the OSCE SMM’s report on IDPs in Ukraine

Last Friday the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) released a report on internal displacement in Ukraine and it seems like they want it to be read by as few people as possible.

The OSCE SMM didn’t just release this report on the last Friday in August – they buried it late in the afternoon on the last Friday in August (17.30 Ukraine time – 10.30 am Eastern in Canada/US). OK?

And looking at when the focus groups and interviews were actually done for the report, it’s not like they didn’t have time to release it when people might actually be paying attention:

“Focus group discussions and individual interviews were conducted between August and November 2015 in 19 regions across Ukraine” [emphasis mine]

Listen, I know there were a lot of focus groups and interviews – 161 groups and 39 individual interviews, to be precise, so more than 1,600 people in total. I’ve been that guy having to organize transcriptions and analysis of piles of focus group and interview findings. It takes time. But you mean to tell me it’s taken no less than nine months to do all this?

If they have, the quality of the report is pretty disappointing. This thing rambles on, with barely a signpost for the reader to know what the most important findings are. We don’t get any stand-alone block quotes from IDPs themselves to help contextualize and understand how they’re coping in new communities. We’re treated to vague discussions of IDP-community relations that could leave a reader thinking they’re far worse than they actually are. We get a conclusion (“Concluding Remarks”) that reads like it was pieced together the morning of (I know, cuz I’ve done it), a flimsy set of remarks that summarizes almost nothing of substance. If I ever handed a draft report like this to one of my old bosses I’d have had it handed back to me pretty quickly.

Read this report, then take a look at the UNHCR’s report from a few months ago about IDPs and host communities in Ukraine, and also one of the IOM’s regular reports every few months. I challenge you to reach a different conclusion than mine: that this report’s a watered-down stream of paragraphs that doesn’t really help us understand IDPs any better.

Should we be surprised? Probably not. According to one former OSCE observer:

“According to established OSCE practice, reports should not provoke major controversies. Instead, they should be politically acceptable to all member states, with the emphasis on ‘balance’ rather than ‘objectivity’. In addition to this approach, I also quickly learned that I was only one of several links in the chain of report preparation. Information provided by OSCE monitoring teams had been often already been ‘sterilized’ by the time it reached me. As a result, the reports posted on the OSCE website were often far removed from that what I personally wished to include, and what should have been included.”

I think we can add this report to that list.

A look at some pre-День незалежності surveys

A look at some pre-День незалежності surveys

Data from two big surveys has come out right before Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24.

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.

future UA
Graph: Michael Colborne

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%).

RU lang
Graph: Michael Colborne

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.

social attitudes
Graph: Michael Colborne

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.

stalin
Graph: Michael Colborne

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?

Conclusions?

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.

Poll in Donetsk region: what we know, don’t know & should know

Poll in Donetsk region: what we know, don’t know & should know

A few days ago I came across this poll from both the uncontrolled (i.e., “DNR”) and controlled (i.e., Ukrainian-controlled) territory of Donetsk region.  There’s some pretty interesting numbers coming out of it; however, as I’ll prattle on about below, I’m actually more interested in the numbers and breakdowns we’re not (yet) seeing.

Point form background:

  • Ukrainian link here: English link here
  • Conducted for the Donbas Think Tank by IFAK Institut, an international market research firm
  • Surveys done from May 30-June 13, 2016, using face-to-face interviews
  • 605 surveys done in uncontrolled territory (i.e., “DNR”)
  • 805 surveys done in Ukrainian-controlled territory

I won’t harp on the findings too much since they’re pretty clearly laid out in both the Ukrainian and English versions, including with some easy-to-read charts much prettier than any nonsense Microsoft Word bar graphs I could spit out. Still, a few thoughts:

1. The bit most people are picking up on is the fact that only 18% of respondents in the “DNR” identified themselves as “DNR” citizens, compared to a much more common Donbas territorial identity (60% UA-gov’t controlled, 61% “DNR”). This has been pretty extensively discussed so I won’t dive into it here.

2. Some of the emotions people say prevail around them are different between controlled and uncontrolled territories and, well, are pretty worrying.

Screenshot_2016-08-16-17-57-38Anxiety’s common in both controlled territories and the “DNR” and hope, strangely enough, is much more common in the “DNR” than the controlled territories (37% to 12%), as is the feeling of cohesion.

What worries me the most are the figures around disappointment (37% in controlled territories versus 11% in uncontrolled territories) and anger/rage (30% in controlled territories versus 6% in uncontrolled territories). Anger and disappointment is a dangerous combination.

3. Everybody, in controlled or uncontrolled territories, fears resumed/intensified war. But just over a quarter (28%) of people in uncontrolled territories fear a restoration of Ukrainian control over the “DNR” which, given the barrages of Russian propaganda these people have been subject to for two years, actually seems reassuringly low to me.

Screenshot_2016-08-16-17-57-54

Findings like these have led the Donbas Think Tank to warn that a prolonged war in the east “has a risk of deepening differences between the inhabitants of the uncontrolled area…and inhabitants of the controlled area.”

They also warn that there’s “a particular risk that the “citizen of DPR” identity might expand and…Ukrainian civic identity might be weakened among the residents of the uncontrolled territory.”

That’s why they’ve made a number of policy and communication-related recommendations, including some around “tactical communication” which I think this data would feed into most:

1. To elaborate and implement communication strategy for the reintegration of Donbas – a policy paper  describing  target groups of  the  Donetsk region residents, a system of narratives and messages, channels and tools of communication with the target audience.

 2: “To elaborate and implement a comprehensive information campaign for the residents of  the  controlled  and  uncontrolled  territories  of  the  Donetsk  region  aiming  at strengthening their Ukrainian civic identity”

The place to start describing these “target groups” and spur on discussion about these “narratives and messages” is right here, with this survey data. But this data, as it’s being publicly presented right now, isn’t giving the rest of us much to go on.

Looking just at the “DNR” data, you’ve got a (presumably?) representative sample of just over 600 residents. This might not be a large enough sample to be crosstabbing and regressing the shit out of, but it’s large enough to do what I’d think are some pretty important breakdowns. Gender. Age. Socio-economic status (assuming of course there was a question in the survey acting as a proxy for SES). Level of education. Whether they’re pensioners or not. Religious affiliation. etc. These are the breakdowns government, the public and civil society in Ukraine need to see to know who’s thinking what in the “DNR” and how to (and not to) communicate with them. Painting everyone in the “DNR” with an overly broad brush isn’t going to do them or the rest of Ukraine any favours.

That being said, a lot of this has definitely already gone on behind the scenes. I’ve been one of those market research noobs behind those scenes running crosstabs into the wee hours of the morning until I feel like my soul has escaped my body. What’s more, the data that’s been presented publicly doesn’t tell us anything about weighting, representativeness of the sample, etc., or any more methodological details. Some of this would help, even if it’s only a few losers like me who look at it.

In short, there’s some pretty helpful information buried in this survey data. Let’s use it.

Ongoing war in Ukraine turns 1.7 million people into refugees

Ongoing war in Ukraine turns 1.7 million people into refugees

(my piece last month for CBC News)

Most 16-year-olds spend their summers working behind a counter, hanging out with their friends and maybe sneaking out to a party or two. Maria Semenenko got to spend hers fleeing her hometown.

Semenenko, now 18, is from Donetsk, the still-burning hot spot of the war between Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels. The conflict has claimed nearly 9,400 lives since 2014, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Despite the fact that there’s a nominal ceasefire in place, military and civilian casualties continue to mount in eastern Ukraine, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says.

International monitors such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe continue to observe one ceasefire violation after another, and continue to be denied access by Russian-backed rebels to a number of parts of the territory they control, including the border with Russia.

The war, along with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has forced more than 1.7 million people like Semenenko from their homes to other parts of Ukraine.

Many have gone to fairly close cities in the east like Kharkiv and Zaporizhia. Smaller numbers have gone to cities like Lviv in western Ukraine, more than 1,100 kilometres away, while others have gone to smaller cities and towns all over the country where they have friends and family.

But many, like Semenenko and her family, left everything behind and settled in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and largest city of almost three million.

It wasn’t easy at first.

“I like singing,” she says at Kyiv’s World Refugee Day celebration on June 20. She used to sing and play a bit of guitar with her friends back home in Donetsk.

“But when I got to Kyiv, I didn’t know what to do,” she says. “I didn’t know a lot of people here.”

But last winter Semenenko found out about a talent show an NGO was putting on for young internally displaced persons (IDPs) like her. She applied, auditioned and was accepted.

It gave her a chance to not only belt out a few tunes, but also to make friends in a crowded new city.

“I’ve had some good luck,” she says. But she knows not everyone is as lucky.

Few jobs for refugees

Semenenko’s parents have found work in Ukraine’s competitive capital city. But according to a recent survey by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mission in Ukraine, fewer than half of such families in Ukraine even have regular income from employment.

Even those who do can’t manage to pull in very much. According to the IOM’s survey, 59 per cent of internal refugees made less than $68 Cdn per family member per month.

“The general level of well-being of most IDPs is quite low,” says Manfred Profazi, IOM Ukraine’s chief of mission.

Some assistance is available from the Ukrainian government: $20 Cdn a month if a refugee is able to work and $46 Cdn if not. But refugee activists worry that new Ukrainian government rules and “monitoring commissions” will take these benefits away from the most vulnerable refugees like the elderly and disabled.

“For people who live in poverty, on the very brink of survival, these small subsidies mean a lot,” activist Andriy Timoshenko told the Kyiv Post last week.

“They don’t have anywhere to live or anything to live on.”

From Syria to Ukraine

Assad Hawlkat might have a place to live, but it’s not where he wants to be.

A Kurd from Kobani in northern Syria, Hawlkat left home several years ago to study at a university in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. He earned an undergraduate degree, got married and was working towards a graduate degree when Russian-backed rebels seized Luhansk.

“In 2015 they started saying they might have to send all the international students out because of the situation there,” he says. He ended up going back home to Kobani, itself recently liberated after a long siege by ISIS.

Hawlkat, a fervent painter, didn’t last long back home. Extremists threatened him after a small exhibition of his paintings earned their ire and soon after he came back to Ukraine to pursue his graduate studies in Kyiv.

Nothing to go back to

After his parents told him there was nothing to come back to in Kobani, Hawlkat applied for refugee status in Ukraine. He is still waiting.

But he can’t go back to Luhansk, where he’d rather be. His wife is there but can’t leave because she’s looking after her ill mother and grandmother. As a refugee claimant, he isn’t allowed to get through the front lines to visit.

“I have all the photos to prove my story but they say no,” he says, frustrated.

But for Hawlkat, art is his outlet. He displayed some of his paintings at the World Refugee Day celebration.

His paintings are visual odes to what he’s lost and what he hopes to get back. Some of his pieces are based on photographs, including of his own war-torn hometown in Syria.

Others are abstract pieces, from multicoloured swirls of oil to flowery yet fiery electrocardiograms that express emotions he can’t put into words.

“As an artist, I’m burning from the inside for my paintings,” he says. “I can’t live without them.”

As Maria Semenenko shelters herself from the afternoon sun, she is asked what she would say to Canadians about herself and her life.

She pauses, seeking the right words in English.

“Value peace, all that you have,” she says. “Because just one time, you can lose it all.”

Some reflections on KyivPride2016

Some reflections on KyivPride2016

This is my small act of straight-ally solidarity with my LGBT brothers, sisters, friends and family – my account of Kyiv’s Pride march and an attempt to spread some good news after yesterday’s unspeakable act of homophobic violence in Orlando.

***

What a difference a year makes.

Last year’s Kyiv Pride march was attended by a few hundred brave souls, who were met in Kyiv’s northern suburbs by far-right thugs wielding fists, flares and even firecrackers packed with nails.

This year looked like it was shaping up to be much of the same. A few months ago one far-right leader publicly called for participants to be killed. Another one promised a few weeks ago that the Pride march was going to be a “bloodbath.”

It wasn’t.

Thanks to organizers, who worked with local and national governments to arrange for more than 6,000 police officers and national guards to protect the more than 1,500 marchers, Kyiv’s Pride march in the city centre on Sunday was safe.

Riot police, shields on standby, and national guardsmen held a perimeter around a few blocks of the city, including around the leafy sprawl of Shevchenko Park. Metal detectors framed the few entrances to the interior, pat-downs and bag checks greeting you before you could get inside.

entrance
One of the entrances

If there was any nervous tension before the march started, I certainly didn’t feel it.

There were a handful of anti-gay protesters inside the perimeter, a few off to the side holding signs like “No to gay propaganda in Ukraine,” like you might see from a street preacher or someone in an American or Canadian city.

To their credit, they weren’t getting in anyone’s face. No one was getting in theirs. When I did see and hear discussions between marchers and anti-gay activists like them – I deliberately use the term “discussions” here – they weren’t particularly tense or loud.

You know when you’re overhearing an argument and you think “damn, this might escalate”? Not here. I’ve heard angrier arguments at baseball games.

antigayy
Some of the anti-gay protesters inside the perimeter

I recall two disruptive protesters in total getting bundled away. One got carried off fifteen or twenty minutes before the march started, followed by hordes of journos with cameras (not me, because I was too slow). Another got surrounded nearer to when the march was about to start, shouting something about ‘пидорасы’ (‘faggots’), which is a surefire way to get yourself justifiably bundled away from a gay-friendly event.

As the cops flanked the march and it started to inch forward, the aforementioned handful of anti-gay protesters got shuffled off to the side by the cops, out of the way, tossing a few anti-gay fliers into the air like oversized confetti.

police line
The police line, the march about to start

The marchers themselves were a mix of LGBT Ukrainians, allies and friends. A few Ukrainian MPs (more than last year), a German MEP, foreign ambassadors and embassy staff, families with children and even two fighters from the Aidar battalion.

With drums beating the march made its way to the corner, taking a left at Lva Tolstoho (Leo Tolstoy) and started to make its way down the hill (for the uninitiated, Kyiv has way, way too many hills).

Drums kept beating. Cheers and chants kept coming. A few people looked on from their balconies and behind storefronts, looking more…well, curious than anything else.

After about twenty minutes the march made it to the bottom of the street, to Lva Tolstoho square, and that was that.

Velyka Vasylevska street was fenced off at both its north and south ends, with cops and national guards holding fort against a handful of demonstrators and far-right thugs waiting outside.

bottom of lva tolstoho
Lva Tolstoho square

The square itself was full of buses waiting to ferry marchers out of the city centre to safety, and the metro was ready with special cars to shuttle other marchers away to a station in the southwest of the city.

bus guard
Police guarding buses to ferry away marchers

I was on one of these cars, each one guarded by a pair of police officers in full face shields who, at least in my car, made people feel safe enough to belt out an impromptu rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem as the doors slid shut.

I eventually made my way back into the city centre. Just as the march organizers had warned, there were a few far-right thugs roaming around central Kyiv looking for a fight. Outside the entrances to Teatralna station at Pushkinska and Bohdana Khmelnytskoho, a few anti-gay protesters (peaceful, from what I could see) were holding court with banners.

teatralna
Anti-gay protesters by Teatralna station. “Papa, Mama, children, home / Ukraine is not Sodom!”

Across on another corner maybe ten far-right thugs stood around, one wearing a ‘Misanthropic Division’ t-shirt, the same gang/hooligan firm/what-have-you that violently broke up Lviv’s equality festival in March. Right around the corner from them was a (larger) group of cops on the ready. I didn’t stick around much longer, but if these barely-out-of-high-school-looking kids with tattoos found trouble, it was likely with them.

Since yesterday I’ve only heard about a few instances of violence after the march, though I know how much of an issue under-reporting of anti-LGBT violence is in this country.

I know it’s going to take a while for the LGBT community to build a proper home in Ukraine. Progress on LGBT rights here isn’t going to come overnight, and I know it’s not going to come without its share of heartbreak.

But yesterday I saw some brave people building that foundation. And when I hear that LGBT Ukrainians are happily telling journalists things like “I feel like I’ve been given a voice,” I think – even as a naïve straight guy from the suburbs – that I’m right to feel optimistic.

Ironically (and sadly) enough, I think President Obama described it best yesterday, when he said that Orlando’s Pulse is more than just a club – it is:

“a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.”

Feels like he could have just as easily been describing KyivPride2016.

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.