At the start of a new political season, surveys give a snapshot of the public opinion on the country’s foreign policy, international affairs, world leaders, and Ukraine’s domestic agenda. Extensive data illustrative of Ukrainians’ views emerge from two recent surveys conducted by the Sociological Group Rating on September 2-4, and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation ahead of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. Here are the key findings.
Crimea Platform. In the past five months, the share of Ukrainians who say they are aware of the government’s diplomatic initiative Crimea Platform grew by half – from 45 per cent in April 2021 to 66 per cent in September 2021, the survey by the Sociological Group Rating finds.
Positive views of the initiative have also increased – from 38 per cent in April to 50 per cent in September. About 80 per cent of Ukrainians who say they are well-informed of the Crimea Platform, view it favorably.
The inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform took place in Kyiv on August 23, 2021. The Crimea Platform was launched by the Ukraine government as the ground for talks in a bid to synchronize the efforts of the international community to protect the human rights in Crimea and de-occupy the peninsula. Some 46 participants, representatives of individual states and international organizations took part in the first summit of the Crimea Platform. (Read also: “Deoccupation of Crimea begins in Kyiv: overview of Crimea Platform’s inaugural summit”)
Nord Stream 2. Ukrainians are knowledgeable about the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that bypasses Ukraine, the survey by the Sociological Group Rating finds. Half of Ukrainians are familiar with the topic, 31 per cent have some knowledge of it, and 18 per cent are not aware of it. Four-in-ten Ukrainians (41 per cent) say that there was no chance that Ukraine would stop the construction of the pipeline. Some 20 per cent blame it on President Poroshenko, three per cent blame it on President Zelenskyi, and one-fourth say that both presidents are responsible. (Read also: “Project operator Nord Stream 2 AG loses court ruling in Germany: new complications facing Russia”)
Views of Merkel, Biden, and Macron. Of the major world leaders, Ukrainians express the most favorable views of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (73 per cent have favorable views, and 19 per cent have unfavorable views), and the U.S. President Joe Biden (64 per cent have positive views, and 19 per cent have negative views). Favorable opinions of the U.S. President Biden have lifted slightly, and favorable opinions of the German Chancellor Merkel have dipped.
More than half of Ukrainians (57 per cent) have favorable views of the French President Emmanuel Macron, and 19 per cent have negative views of him. Some 23 per cent are either undecided about their views or do not know who he is. Nearly the same share of Ukrainians (54 per cent) have positive opinions of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, and 10 per cent view him negatively. More than one-in-three Ukrainians (37 per cent) are either undecided about their views or do not know who he is.
Views of Putin and Lukashenka. Negative views of the leaders of Belarus and Russia prevail in Ukraine. Fifty-nine per cent of Ukrainians have negative views of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and 34 per cent have positive views of him. In the past year, positive views of the Belarusian leader plummeted from 45 per cent to 34 per cent. In the past two years, the share of Ukrainians who have favorable attitudes toward Lukashenka decreased two times, from 67 per cent to 34 per cent.
An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (81 per cent) have negative views of Vladimir Putin, and 15 per cent have positive views of the Russian President.
Ukrainian leaders who brought the nation building forward. The fifth Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko (10.2 per cent) and the second Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma (10 per cent) rank highest on the list of the leaders that have done most to strengthen Ukraine’s statehood and sovereignty, a survey conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the sociological service of the Razumkov Center finds. The pollsters conducted the survey between July 29 and August 4, 2021, ahead of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.
Other most significant Ukrainians on the list are: the leader of the Narodnyi Rukh of Ukraine (People’s Movement) Vyacheslav Chornovil (8.5 per cent), the first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk (6.1 per cent), the President in office Volodymyr Zelenskyi (5.6 per cent), the third president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko (5.4 per cent), and political leader Yulia Tymoshenko (4.6 per cent). The runaway president Viktor Yanukovych scored two per cent.
Ukrainians want “strong hand” as much as rule of law. There is a paradoxical demand for a “strong hand” and a strongman leader with the Ukrainian public, the survey finds. On the one hand, a majority of Ukrainians want a strongman leader that would put the country back in order. On the other, they disprove of the potential violations of the law by the leader.
More than half of Ukrainians say that a few strongmen leaders can do more for the country than the laws and discussions. One-fourth of Ukrainians hold contrasting views. At the same time, 72 per cent say that a strongman leader must abide by law and cannot violate the law.
Volodymyr Zelenskyi, Petro Poroshenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Yuriy Boyko are the strongmen leaders Ukrainians named. The list coincides with that of the presidential candidates.
Pride in being Ukrainian, mixed views of the country’s course. An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (72 per cent) are either moderately proud or extremely proud to be Ukrainian. Only 18.5 per cent of Ukrainians say they are either only a little proud or not at all proud. In the past 19 years, there is a steady rise in the share of Ukrainians who are either proud or extremely proud of being Ukrainian.
However views of the direction of the country since it gained independence are different. Eighteen per cent say the country has been on the right track, 29 per cent hold contrasting views, and 46 per cent have mixed views, equally positive and negative. The share of Ukrainians who have favorable views of the country’s course has increased over time, the survey by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation finds. The rise has been most pronounced among young adults.