Ten things you should know about TB in Ukraine

Ten things you should know about TB in Ukraine

Did you know Friday is World Tuberculosis Day? You do now.

Ukrainian? In Ukraine? A Ukraine-watcher, whatever that means? Here’s a list of ten things you should know about TB in Ukraine:

  1. The TB incidence rate in Ukraine in 2016 was 67.6 per 100,000 persons – which, for perspective, is anywhere from ten to twenty times the rate in countries like the US, the UK or Canada (to say nothing of the absurdly high rates among First Nations and Inuit in Canada, but I digress).
  1. Fewer Ukrainians were diagnosed with TB in 2016 than in 2015 – a 4.3% decrease in the number of new diagnoses. Good.
  1. Ukraine has, alongside Russia, a spot on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of 20 countries with the highest estimated burdens of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). There’s more than 8,000 new cases of MDR-TB registered in Ukraine every year, and it’s increasing. That’s bad.
  1. Anyone can get TB in Ukraine, including children – especially if you don’t vaccinate them. OMFG BCG vaccine pls FFS.
  1. TB’s still a disease concentrated in at-risk groups in Ukraine. According to stats from Ukraine’s Public Health Center (thankfully renamed from the unwieldy “Ukrainian Center for Social Disease Control of the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine”), around 70% of new TB cases in 2014 were in so-called “socially vulnerable groups” like unemployed people of working age and drug/alcohol abusers. (NB. these are the most recent breakdowns they seem to have but I don’t see any reason why these would’ve changed at all over 2015/16).
  1. One the major groups of people at risk of TB, particularly MDR-TB, are people with HIV/AIDS. As I wrote about earlier this week, more than half (52%) of deaths from AIDS-related causes in Ukraine last year were from TB – much higher than the one-third of deaths globally from TB in people with AIDS.
  1. HIV/TB co-infection is increasing in Ukraine – a “noticeable increase” according to the Public Health Center, increasing year-on-year from 2013. All this “[reflects] the increasing burden of HIV infection in the country.”
  1. There aren’t any numbers on TB, HIV or anything coming out of the non-Ukrainian-government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (“DNR”/”LNR”), but everyone assumes the TB situation there is pretty bad. One senior international official I spoke to last month told me “we hear about used needles, terrible conditions there” with the at-risk population in the east – largely in and around Donetsk, which has long been an HIV hotspot in Ukraine. “I’d say of course HIV is growing there, TB is growing there, because the conditions in which they are spending time in is terrible,” this official told me.
  1. As Oksana Grytsenko reported in the Kyiv Post a few days ago, Ukraine struggles to provide effective TB treatment. Read her piece. No point in me rehashing it here, other than to add this quote from the Public Health Center: “Especially dangerous is the untimely addresses for medical assistance, late TB diagnostics, and HIV/TB co-infection, which causes a high level of mortality due to TB and results from the lack of a comprehensive approach to the combination of preventive and treatment programs at the national and regional levels into a single system of counteraction”
  1. There’s cause for some cautious optimism, I think. To plug again what I wrote about HIV earlier this week, state funding for TB treatment is being increased in 2017 and activists I spoke to seemed confident that the Ministry of Health and the government as a whole is (re)recognizing HIV/TB as a priority. Still, we’ll see.

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.



On “First the journalists, then tanks and bombs”

On “First the journalists, then tanks and bombs”

OK, I’d seen this article and graph kicking around Twitter for a day or two before I finally looked at it, and I’m both glad and not glad I did.

This impressive-looking graph. You’ve seen it, right?

For anyone who hasn’t already seen it or (like I had) has given it only a cursory weekend glance,  the graph is based on an analysis done by Semantic Visions, “a risk assessment company based in Prague” who “conduct…big data (meaning non-structured, large data requiring serious calculations) analyses with the aid of open source intelligence, on the foundation of which they try to identify trends or risk factors.” They also use a “private Open Source Intelligence system, which is unique in its category and enables solutions to a new class of tasks to include geo-political analyses based on Big Data from the Internet.”

OK, cool.

The gist in this case: Semantic Visions had algorithms read hundreds of thousands of online sources, including 22,000 Russian ones,  searching for different trends.

OK…though as someone who chose to suffer through a media content analysis as a thesis for some reason I have a number of methodology-related questions I don’t want to harp too much on (e.g., how is the algorithm actually designed to determine positive/negative stories vis-à-vis a human? how were the online sources chosen? etc.). A little transparency here would go a long way, proprietary nature of the algorithms notwithstanding.

What gets me is the conclusion they’ve drawn based on the data they’ve gathered and present here in this article.

The article says “the number of Russian articles with a negative tone on Ukraine [from February 2012] started to show a gradual and trend-like increase – while no similar trend can be found in English-language media.”

Yes, your data does show that. Got no problem there.

But it’s this (my emphasis in bold):

“Therefore, based on hundreds of millions of articles the possibility that the actual events in Ukraine could themselves be the reason for the increasing combativeness of Russian-language articles can be excluded. Moreover, the strongly pro-Russian President Yanukovych was still in government at the time and the similarly Eastern-oriented Party of Regions was in power. The explanation is something else: the Putin administration was consciously preparing for military intervention and the Kremlin’s information war against Ukraine started two years before the annexation of Crimea to turn Russian public opinion against Ukrainians…”

How can someone possibly draw that conclusion based solely on the numbers presented here?? Are you privy to other data or pieces of analyses that aren’t public? Because, based on the data that’s presented here, I see absolutely no justification for the conclusion that the Kremlin “was consciously preparing for military intervention.”


  • A big part of the explanation for any apparent increase in negative coverage would be the EU Association Agreement being initialed in March 2012, right?
  • Why start the analysis at June 2011? I’d want to see the tone of coverage compared to the last bit of Yushchenko’s presidency through the beginning of Yanukovych’s – maybe the increase over 2012-2013 isn’t so much an increase as a return to “normal” negative coverage of Ukraine.
  • (OK, I lied about no more methodology questions) What about positive stories? Were negative stories about Ukraine taking up a greater share of overall coverage, or did the overall number of articles itself increase? Not being transparent on methodological nerdish issues like this really, really doesn’t help, guys.

Please – no more divining of Kremlinological intentions from incomplete, unclear sets of numbers.

Radical Party vs. far-right party support in Ukraine: how similar is it?

Radical Party vs. far-right party support in Ukraine: how similar is it?

(the title of this post explains it. there’s hockey on so I can’t be arsed with a preamble)

I did a bit of analysis using the most recent publicly available Ukraine data set I have – the May 2016 edition of the KIIS Omnibus survey of 2,000 Ukrainians in government-controlled parts of the country (as always, no Crimea, no unrecognized “DNR”/”LNR” statelets). The September 2016 data set will be available in February, they tell me.

I grouped together supporters of the three far-right parties that showed up in the May survey (Svoboda, Pravyi Sektor and Yarosh’s Governmental Initiative) and compared them to Radical Party supporters to see how similar they are.

The answer? Not very.

Age: Radical Party supporters tend to be older (average age 52.2 years old) than far-right party supporters (45.8 years old) [p≤.01].

Settlement size: Radical Party supporters are more likely to live in communities of less than 100,000 people (16.9%) than in cities with more than 100,000 people (10.3%) [p≤.01] – but there’s no significant difference for far-right party supporters.

Urban/rural: Obviously related to settlement size, Radical Party supporters were more likely to be from a rural area (18.6% compared to 11.1% urban; p≤.01). Again, there’s no significant difference for far-right party supporters, even if the numbers appear to slightly skew rural.

Attitudes towards Russia: Shocking no one, far-right party supporters are more likely to have bad/very bad views towards Russia (16.9% compared to 3.7% ‘good/very good’)[p≤.01]. Not so for Radical Party supporters – there’s no significant difference.

Will Ukraine be better/worse?: Far-right party supporters are more likely to think that the situation in Ukraine will be better (14.6%) or the same (15.7%) in a year’s time, compared to 6.9% ‘worse’. [p≤.01]. There’s no significant difference for Radical Party supporters.

Ukraine’s leaders moving country in right/wrong direction?: While Radical Party supporters are more likely to think the country’s going in the wrong direction (15.8% compared to 6.5% ‘right direction’; [p≤.01]), there’s no significant difference for far-right party supporters.

Perceived income: I’ve split the perceived income question in two (there’s five categories, with almost no one picking the fifth, ‘richest’ category) – think of it like ‘perceived lower income’ versus ‘perceived higher income’.

With that in mind, Radical Party supporters were more likely to describe themselves as part of that lower-income group; their household situations tend to be “lacking money for food” or “enough money for food but not for clothes” compared to having enough money for clothes or to buy expensive things (16.6% compared to 7.9%)[p≤.01]. As for far-right party supporters, there were no significant differences here.

Reported income: Radical Party supporters were more likely to report they earned less than 3000 UAH a month (16.6% compared to 10.1% more than 3,000 UAH/month)[p≤.05], while there was no significant difference for far-right party supporters. This question, FWIW, doesn’t appear on all KIIS surveys.

Region: Far-right support tends to come from western Ukraine (21.7%), compared to 7.0% in central Ukraine, 5.3% in southern Ukraine and 3.1% in eastern Ukraine [p≤.01]. Radical Party support, on the other hand, is actually pretty even across western, central and southern Ukraine (14%-16%).

Education: Like with perceived income I’ve had to split education into two broad categories – ‘lower-educated’ and ‘higher-educated’. Using those categories Radical Party supporters tend to be lower-educated (19.3% compared to 11.8%)[p≤.01], while no significant difference appears for far-right party supporters.

Gender: Far-right party supporters are more likely to be men (14.7% compared to 7.2%) – no such significant difference appears for Radical Party supporters.


Based on this data, far-right party supporters and Radical Party supporters don’t look too much alike.

  • Far-right party supporters, relatively speaking, are young, predominantly male and concentrated in western Ukraine and have much more negative attitudes towards Russia.
    • Are they more concentrated in rural areas? They may well be, but the stats from this survey alone don’t allow me to draw that conclusion. If they are I suspect it’s a weaker relationship than for Radical Party supporters.
  • Radical Party supporters, on the other hand, tend to be older Ukrainians who live predominantly in rural areas across different regions of Ukraine, have lower levels of income and education and feel more pessimistic about where Ukraine’s headed.


1. This is one poll, taken at one point in time more than seven months ago. I want to repeat this with more recent data to see if these trends hold or whether new ones emerge (or with different data if someone wants to give it to me).

2. The small sample size of decided voters (less than half of the original sample of 2,000 Ukrainians) really inhibits the amount of analysis I can run – thus why you see some of these oversimplified ‘higher/lower’ categories. This means some of the possible nuances between the cracks don’t get captured (e.g., between four levels of perceived income or education, etc.). This also so means that some differences that weren’t statistically significant here could show up as significant in different, larger surveys.

3. (2a?) The sample size isn’t remotely big enough to try and do more complex analysis (e.g., logistic regression) to determine what variables (e.g., gender, age, etc.) make the biggest impact on far-right or Radical Party support. Bah.

Thoughts welcome, errata mine.

Survey of IDPs and hosting communities in Ukraine

Survey of IDPs and hosting communities in Ukraine

The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology released results of a survey (pdf, English; Ukrainian here) they did in July and August with internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and hosting communities across Ukraine.

Boring method-related preamble facts:

  • Done for Internews (an international NGO – not Inter) and funded by the Government of Canada
  • Fieldwork between July 22 and August 16, 2016
  • 1,003 IDPs and 1,500 residents of host communities interviewed in person across all of Ukraine except territories not under control of the government (i.e., except Crimea and “LNR”/”DNR” )

Have a look for yourself, but for me three things stand out…

Some IDPs feel prejudice more than others

Six in ten (61%) IDPs said they never felt prejudice from local citizens because they were an IDP; one in five (20%) said they only rarely felt prejudice, while 11% experienced it “from time to time and 3% “all the time.”

Still, some IDPs experience more prejudice than others.  IDPs displaced before autumn 2014 tended to experience less prejudice (67% ‘no prejudice’) compared to those displaced before autumn 2015 (54% no) and autumn 2016 (55% no). In addition, IDPs in villages (65% ‘no prejudice’) and cities <50,000 people (75%) experience less prejudice than those in cities +50,000 people (48% ‘no prejudice’) and oblast centres (59%).

But it’s IDPs who say they feel vulnerable (“Do you feel more vulnerable because of your age, health condition, education, employment opportunities or any other conditions as compared to other IDPs?”) that tend to experience more prejudice; two-thirds (67%) of IDPs who didn’t feel vulnerable said they experienced no prejudice compared to 49% of vulnerable IDPs. These vulnerable IDPs tend to be those over 60 years of age, lack paid work, lack higher education and say they have health and/or financial problems.

One note: in the tables in the appendices to the report there is a stat that says 47% of those aged 18-29 felt vulnerable compared to 21% of 30-44s, 20% of 45-59s and 31% of 60+s. This isn’t discussed or mentioned in the text of the report so I’m wondering a) if it’s a typo or (most likely) b) the subsample’s too small to be statistically significant.

Getting to know IDPs

Looking now at the survey of local residents:

  • 83% said they know there are IDPs in their town/city
  • 45% have talked to an IDP
  • 34% have IDPs among their relatives and close friends.

These trends aren’t the same across the country – people are less familiar with IDPs in western Ukraine than in Donbas or Kyiv, which isn’t surprising given where IDPs tend to settle.


Most citizens in host communities tend to have good (43%) or neutral (44%) attitudes towards IDPs, which is consistent with findings a different survey back in June. Only 5% of people surveyed said they had negative attitudes towards IDPs.

These attitudes, however, tend to be the worst (well, really, ‘least good’) in western Ukraine, where people are the least familiar with IDPs, and best in areas like eastern Ukraine and Donbas, with one exception…


…that exception, of course, is Kyiv, where people are the most aware of IDPs in their city, the most likely to have IDPs among their relatives and/or close friends – but also have the most negative attitudes towards IDPs (14% saying they had a ‘bad’ attitude towards IDPs).


Kyiv’s the exception too when it comes to attitudes about crime.

Only one in ten (11%) residents of host communities who were of aware of IDPs in their communities (n= 1,233) said that the presence of IDPs in their community had led to a worsening of the crime rate.

But look at the regional breakdowns:

  • West: 9%
  • North: 18%
  • Centre: 7%
  • South: 5%
  • East: 11%
  • Donbas: 6%
  • Kyiv: 32%

That’s a huge difference, and it isn’t just because Kyiv’s a huge city; 19% of residents of oblast centres felt the presence of IDPs had worsened the crime rate, still far higher than those in villages and cities with both fewer and greater than 50,000 people (6%, 7% and 8%, respectively).


In point form because it’s getting late here.

  • The most vulnerable IDPs are the ones who tend to experience the most prejudice
  • Similarly to what I argued for a similar survey done back in June, there looks to be bit of familiarity not exactly breeding contempt going on here – attitudes tend to be more positive in regions where people have more contact with IDPs, except Kyiv
  • Blaming IDPs for crime (not that anyone tried doing that) might not get you very far. A subset of the population would probably buy into that sort of thing, particularly in larger cities and the capital, but the findings from this survey suggest – thankfully – that jumping up to play the blame-refugees-for-crime game might not be all that fruitful for Ukraine’s populists.




Comparing Ukrainian & Russian attitudes toward each other (KIIS/Levada Centre data)

Comparing Ukrainian & Russian attitudes toward each other (KIIS/Levada Centre data)

KIIS and Levada released results this week from their regular surveys of Russians and Ukrainians and their attitudes towards each other (link to KIIS in Ukrainian, Levada’s link in Russian).

tl;dr: Ukrainians tend to have more positive attitudes towards Russia than vice versa.

  • Attitudes of Ukrainians towards Russia:
    • 40% of Ukrainians in September 2016 said their attitudes towards Russia were ‘good’ or ‘very good’ (an statistically insignificant change from May 2016)
    • 46% of Ukrainians in September 2016 said their attitudes towards Russia were ‘bad’ or ‘very bad,’ a significant increase from 43% in May 2016
  • Attitudes of Russians towards Ukraine:
    • One in four Russians (26%) said their attitudes towards Ukraine were ‘good’ or ‘very good’, a significant drop from 39% in May 2016 – which was itself a significant increase from 27% in February 2016. Some zigzaggin’ goin’ on here.
    • 56% of Russians said their attitudes towards Ukraine were ‘bad’ or ‘very bad,’ a significant increase from 47% in May.

The data over time since 2008 is pretty interesting, so interesting I decided to make a barely readable graph. Ukrainians’ attitudes to Russia = blue. Russians’ attitudes to Ukraine = yellow/…mustard?


A few observations, if you haven’t got a headache yet from having to squint at this thing:

  1. At no point are Ukrainians’ attitudes towards Russia worse than Russians’ attitudes towards Ukraine, even in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea and the start of war in Donbas by May 2014. At every single data point Ukrainians have more positive and less negative feelings about Russia than Russians have for Ukraine.
  2. Russians’ attitudes towards Ukraine got really damn low in late 2008/early 2009. A function of Yushchenko’s presidency and the gas disputes?
  3. Once Yanukovych got elected in February 2010, Russians’ attitudes tend to even out (keeping in mind the gaps in actual survey dates in 2011).
  4. Ukrainians’ attitudes have got a bit better towards Russia recently but, not surprisingly, are still far below pre-Maidan levels.
  5. I can’t explain the zigzagging with Russians’ attitudes over 2015/2016. If you can, great.

Another dose of Ukraine stats for Monday morning

Another dose of Ukraine stats for Monday morning

KIIS asked some of the same questions in both the May 2015 and May 2016 Omnibuses (their translations from the Ukrainian and Russian versions of the questionnaire):

  • “Do you consider yourself a happy person?”
  • “If to speak about Ukraine in general, how do you think, in one year from now the situation in Ukraine will be better or worse than now?”
  • “How do you think, in one year from now your family will live better or worse than now?”

First, Ukrainians aren’t exactly getting happier – 54% said they were happy in May 2016 compared to 59% a year earlier. It’s not a huge change, but it’s significant.


Second, Ukrainians are getting less optimistic about the future, as you can see below.


What’s also interesting is that fewer people in 2016 felt the questions about optimism were difficult to answer (i.e., don’t know)…


Some of the breakdowns for these questions are what you’d expect – i.e., older people, those with lower incomes/lower self-reported descriptions of their financial situation and those with lower levels of education= less happy and less optimistic about the future. I may dig in further. Ask and ye quite possibly may receive. Enjoy your Monday.