Life in Ukraine. Live, @ first hand.

Igor Tyshchenko: Most of Ukrainians Do Not Feel Ukraine’s Russian-Speaking Citizens are Under Pressure

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Kyiv, 11 April 2014 – the attitude of the Ukrainian citizens towards Russia, the new government, the achievements of EuroMaidan and other issues was presented at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, based on the results of a nationwide survey conducted by the Sociological Group “Rating”, commissioned by the International Republican Institute in Ukraine. The findings were presented by Michael Drakman, Director of the IRI’s Ukrainian representative office and Igor Tyshchenko, expert of the Sociological Group “Rating”.

The opinion poll was conducted throughout Ukraine, including Crimea, from March 14 to 26 2014 and involved interviewing 1200 residents of Ukraine. The margin of error does not exceed 2.8%.

According to the survey results, if Ukraine could become a member of only one economic union, 52% of respondents would choose to join the EU and 27% would go for the Customs Union. “It should be noted that the percentage of respondents willing to join the EU increased dramatically in March, after the Maidan events, while in February it was 41%,” Igor Tyshchenko said. The highest percentage of respondents who favor joining the EU (90%) was observed in the western regions, with 70% in the center and 29% and 20% in the south and east respectively. If a referendum on Ukraine’s joining the EU was held today, 53% of the respondents would vote for joining the EU and 28% would be against it. Joining the NATO was supported by 34% of the respondents and opposed by 44%. Mr. Tyshchenko noted that the level of NATO support increased by almost 1.5 times, as compared to the 20 – 25% shown by the previous opinion polls in the past 5 years. Nevertheless, the south and east of Ukraine are the least supportive of NATO membership, with the percentage being 11% and 14% respectively.

In the expert’s opinion, there has been an abrupt change in the attitude towards EuroMaidan since the February events. Before February 18-20, 45% of the respondents had expressed their support for EuroMaidan, whereas in March the percentage increased to 61%, and the number of opponents was 51% in February and 38% in March. The protests were predominantly perceived by western and central Ukraine as a revolution and a step forward towards Europe, while the east and south viewed them as chaos and coup d’état.

39% of respondents said they would agree to put up with some economic hardships today given that it would lead to the improvement of their life in the long term perspective. At the same time, 51% said they were not ready to tighten their belts. According to the expert, the west and the center of Ukraine expressed the highest support of the idea, while respondents in the south and east were the least willing to take such actions.

Poll results suggest that 85% of respondents do not feel that the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine are pressured or threatened because of the language they speak, and 12% are of a different opinion. The expert also noted that the majority of ethnic Russians interviewed do not feel any persecution.

81% of the respondents do not support the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine, and only 13% are in favor. According to the expert, those who receive information only from Russian TV channels mostly support the deployment of troops, and those who prefer Ukrainian mass media or follow both sources of information, do not support it. 54% of the respondents view Russia’s actions in Crimea as invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s territory, and 13% believe that this is done to protect Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population.

50% of respondents think that Crimea should remain an autonomous republic within Ukraine. The expert noted a sharp increase in the percentage of people who view the peninsula as a Crimean Tatar autonomy within Ukraine (13% of respondents now vs 1-2% half a year ago). 64% believe that Ukraine should remain a unitary state, 14% think it should be a federation, and only 1% think it should be divided into several states. 44% and 45% in the south and east respectively view Ukraine as a unitary state.

If parliamentary election was held today, Batkivshchyna would be the most backed party with 16% of supporters, followed by UDAR and Solidarity with 12% and 11% respectively and the Party of Regions with 6%. The expert explained that the Solidarity Party is so popular because of its leader, Petro Poroshenko, who now enjoys the highest rating among the presidential candidates according to the poll. He is the candidate of choice for 21% of the respondents, followed by Yuliya Tymoshenko (11%), Sergiy Tygipko (6%) and Mykhaylo Dobkin (3%).

The expert said that the current government is widely trusted by the citizens. For instance, the actions of the interim President and Head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov are supported by 41% and opposed by 47%. The Cabinet of Ministers headed by Arseniy Yatseniuk is supported by 47% and disapproved by 44% of the respondents.

Speaking about the dominant sentiment, the expert noted that in all regions people feel emotionally exhausted as they have been taking the recent events personally. “Everybody is striving for order. People are ready to put up with a lot of things to regain peace.”

Full results of the survey are available on the IRI website at: http://iri.org/news-events-press-center/news/iri-poll-majority-russian-speaking-citizens-ukraine-don%E2%80%99t-feel-threate

(in English) and on the Rating Group website at: http://ratinggroup.com.ua/products/politic/data/entry/14086/, and a Ukrainian version will become available soon.

The International Republican Institute has been working in Ukraine since 1993. It is an NGO aimed at supporting the development of national democratic political parties, democratic governance in general, and strengthening the civil society.

Sociological Group “Rating” is engaged in conducting nationwide and regional political, topic, marketing and media studies. It is a part of the Rating GroupTM. The company has its offices in Kyiv and Lviv. Its interviewers network comprises over 300 people and works all over Ukraine.


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