Half of Ukrainians disapprove of the Russian social media ban – opinion poll


In June 2017, the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center teamed up to hold a nationwide opinion poll. The subject of the study was the attitude of Ukrainians towards the potential introduction of the visa regime for Russian citizens as well as to a series of measures set to decrease the Russian influence in Ukraine including the recent ban on Russian social networks and email services. Results of the opinion poll were presented at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Russian social media sites and email services blocked       

On May 15 the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko issued a decree putting into effect earlier decision of the National Security and Defense Council blocking the access to the Russian email services Mail.ru and Yandex as well as to the VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks. Some Russian software was banned.

Blocking of Russian social networks was supported by 28 percent of citizens only, while 53 percent of Ukrainians responded negatively. It results from the fact that a significant number of Ukrainian users were utilizing the VKontakte and Odnoklassniki networks – 41 percent of Ukrainians; 21,5 percent were using Mail.ru email service. “The more it affects people’s private interests, the highest resistance it causes,” emphasized Iryna Bekeshkina, director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

The main reason why this decision by the Ukrainian authorities was not well-received by the wide public is the generally low level of awareness as to the motivation behind this step, said Diana Dutsyk, executive director at the Detector Media NGO. “People need to be explained why the Russian social media are a problem and why they are a threat to them personally,” said Dutsyk.

Visa regime with the Russian Federation

The introduction of the visa regime with the Russian Federation has been discussed since the beginning of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. A new wave of such suggestions on the part of Ukrainian MPs started coming in before the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU was introduced. However, the suggestion did not receive sufficient support and was not put on voting at the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament), while it keeps being debated in the society.

According to the results of the joint opinion poll held by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center, only a third of Ukrainians support the introduction of the visa regime with the Russian Federation. The suggestion got the highest support in the western region – 60 percent, while least support came from the southern part of the country – 14 percent. The negative attitude towards the visa regime with Russia is explained by the fact that 51 pe cent of Ukraine’s population said to have relatives, friends or close acquaintances living in Russia.

Language quotas

On May 23, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law setting a mandatory 75 percent quota of Ukrainian-language content on nationwide TV channels. Forty-eight percent of Ukrainians supported establishing of the language quotas on TV, 24 percent did not support the move, while 16 percent claimed to be indifferent to the development.

Ban of the St. George’s ribbon

On May 16, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law setting a fine for public use or wearing of the St. George’s ribbon and foresees fine or administrative arrest for up to 15 days. St. George’s ribbon appeared as part of the St. George’s order, a military award in the Russian Empire. Later it became part of the Soviet World War II military awards. Although it was not subject to the law on decommunization, it was banned due to the fact that today in Ukraine it is mostly associated with the Russian aggression of 2014-2017.

The ban of the St. George’s ribbon was positively perceived by Ukrainians: 40 percent supported it, 26 did not. Southern and eastern regions met the ban quite indifferently – 32 and 22 percent of consent respectively.