Survey shows Ukrainians not conned by Russian ‘junta’ propaganda



A nationwide survey has found that Russian propaganda about an ‘illegal armed junta’ in February 2014, ‘widespread discrimination of ethnic Russians’, etc. has not convinced the majority of Ukrainians who are certain that the Ukrainian army is fighting Russia and pro-Russian terrorists   The good news ends there since some of the more subtle messages pushed by the same propaganda are effective, trust in all media diminished, and scepticism about the current Ukrainian government high.

The survey found that respondents could be divided into 4 groups depending on how they received news.  72% get news mainly from the Ukrainian media – TV and / or the Internet;  22% - from both Ukrainian and Russian; 0.2% mainly from Russian; and 6% don’t use either Ukrainian or Russian media to find out the news.

Ukrainians proved united in their immunity to the Kremlin’s narrative on the conflict in Donbas and denial of Russian involvement.  Although the numbers were slightly smaller in the east and south of the country, a large majority of Ukrainians are convinced that the Ukrainian army is waging war with Russia and pro-Russian terrorists and that the source of the difficulties which the country is facing is Russian aggression.  A large percentage also viewed Maidan 2014 as a people’s revolution.  There was, however, no geographical divide regarding one question with a similar number everywhere answering that the present government is not capable of carrying out the reforms needed. 

The survey was commissioned by Telekritika and carried out by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology [KIIS] from May 20 to June 2.  People were interviewed in all regions, except Crimea, however KIIS warns that due to the difficulties in areas under Kremlin-backed militant control, the respondents from the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ cannot be considered a representative selection of the local population.

Marina Shpiker from KIIS explained that in drawing up the survey they assumed two levels of propaganda.  The first covers the narrative about a Kyiv ‘junta’, rabid nationalists seizing power, etc.  The second is more subtle and aimed at undermining Ukraine’s resistance, with the messages claiming that the Ukrainian army is not capable of defending the country, that the government can’t do anything and that peace is needed at any cost.  She pointed to several positive assertions which she believes can act as a uniting force in the country, namely the determination to achieve peace and believe that this period of crisis will pass and Ukraine will become a thriving nation.

A section of the survey gauged the degree to which respondents attitudes had changed.  Over the country as a whole, 48% said that their attitude to the army since the beginning of 2015 had probably improved, against 10% who said it had got worse.  45% answered that their attitude to volunteer battalions had probably improved; 11% that it had worsened.  Opposite results were seen for the armies of the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ [DPR, LPR], with 60% replying that their attitude had probably worsened, against 2% who were more kindly disposed.  46% have a worse attitude to the Ukrainian government than at the beginning of the year (5% - are more positive), while a whopping 68% have a worse attitude to the Russian authorities and only 1% have become more positive. 

There were regional divides both in where people get their news from, and in their attitudes.  One difference is particularly marked.  In the east of Ukraine,  20% and 21% of respondents said that their attitude to the Ukrainian army and volunteer battalions, respectively, had worsened, and only 19% and 16% that it had improved.  In the south the figures were closer to the nationwide average: 16% and 18% said that their attitude had probably worsened, but 42% and 35% answered that it had probably improved.   42% in the east, and 48% in the south said that their attitude to DPR / LPR forces had worsened, against 1% and 3% - that it had improved. 

Moscow would be well advised to take note of the response regarding attitude to the Russian authorities since in the east 47% said that it had worsened, against only 1% who answered that it had improved.  57% in the south had a worse attitude to the Russian authorities, against 4% who said it had got better.

There’s a clear message here for the Ukrainian government as well.  If the absolute anti-leaders as regards Ukrainians’ negative attitude were the Russian authorities, and DPR/LPR forces, the Ukrainian government gained an ignominious third. 

Translation of the above graph:  Attitude to messages pushed by Ukrainian and Russian propaganda

The results  (Top / darkest - all of Ukraine;  Grey  - East;  Red - South;  Blue -  Central;  Dark blue  - West

The actions of the Ukrainian army in Donbas constitute a war against Russia and pro-Russian terrorists

The cause of most of the difficulties which Ukraine is confronting is Russia’s aggression

The current government is generally not able to carry out the reforms the country needs

The events that took place in the winter of 2014 in Kyiv were a people’s revolution

Despite all difficulties, in a few years Ukraine will be on the path to development and to flourishing

In DPR/LPR Ukrainian-speaking citizens and Ukrainian patriots are persecuted

The Yanukovych regime could not be endured any longer, even taking into consideration the difficulties that Ukraine has faced since

The Ukrainian government should do anything possible for the sake of peace at any price, even if that entails concessions

Euromaidan did not bring Ukraine closer to being transformed into a European country

The current economic difficulties are the result of painful but needed reforms

The Ukrainian army is not able to effectively counter the enemy in Donbas

The actions of the Ukrainian army in Donbas are a civil war

The events in winter of 2014 in Kyiv were an illegal armed coup

The referendum in Donbas reflected the real aspirations of the local inhabitants

The actions of the Ukrainian army in Donbas are a punitive operation against their own people

Ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking citizens are persecuted in Ukraine


Halya Coynash

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