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What should be the policy of the authorities regarding the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate): the results of a telephone survey conducted on December 4-27, 2022

The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, the Deputy Director of KIIS


From December 4 to 27, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". By the method of computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,010 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR of Crimea) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, lived on the territory of Ukraine (within the boundaries controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were not temporarily controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), and the survey was not conducted with citizens who left the country after February 24, 2022.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 3,4% for indicators close to 50%, 3.0% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 5%.

Under conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In particular, if back in May, among all the respondents we interviewed, 2.5-4% lived in the territories occupied after February 24 (and this corresponded to the percentage of those who live there, because the generation of telephone numbers was random), now, due to the occupiers turning off the telephone connection therefore, we managed to interview only 2 respondents (out of 1010) who currently live in occupied settlements. It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general tendencies were quite similar. That is, the impossibility of interviewing such respondents does not significantly affect the quality of the results. There are other factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions (see Annex 2).

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.


Policy of the authorities regarding the UOC (MP)


During the interview, respondents were asked a question about the appropriate policy of the authorities regarding the UOC (MP) and were offered three options to choose from: from a complete ban to complete non-interference (with the investigation of only certain possible offenses). A "compromise" middle position was also proposed, when the Church is not banned completely, but supervision and control by the state is established over it.

As can be seen, 78% of Ukrainians believe that the state should intervene in the activities of the UOC (MP) to one degree or another. In particular, 54% of them believe that this Church should be completely banned in Ukraine. Another 24% are in favor of a somewhat "softer" approach, which does not involve a complete ban, but involves the establishment of state control and supervision.

Only 12% of respondents believe that nothing should be done and should not be interfered in the affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP), and only certain possible cases of offenses should be investigated.


Graph 1. In your opinion, what should be the current policy of the Ukrainian authorities regarding the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (head - Onuphrius)?


In the graph below, the data are shown in a regional dimension[1]. In all regions of Ukraine (from 82% in the West to 73%) the majority of the population advocates a proactive position of the state regarding the activities of the UOC (MP). Even in the South and East, only 16% and 14%, respectively, speak of non-interference in the activities of the UOC (MP). At the same time, in the South and East, there are slightly fewer people who are in favor of a complete ban (48% and 41%).


Graph2. Policy regarding the UOC (MP) in the regional dimension


Graph 3 shows the results are given in terms of the main linguistic categories of the population of Ukraine[2]. It is appropriate to pay attention to the fact that among Russian-speaking Ukrainians, support for the proactive position of the authorities regarding the UOC (MP), although somewhat lower, is also significant - 68% (including 44% who are in favor of a complete ban on this Church).


Graph3. Policy regarding the UOC (MP) among the main linguistic categories of the population



A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


Earlier this year, KIIS studied the religious self-identification of the population ( and although the majority consider themselves Orthodox, only 4% identified themselves with the UOC (MP).

Obviously, to a large extent, we are talking about the political component in this identification and, among other things, the data testify to the unsuccessful attempts of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) to distance itself from the image of the "Russian" Church. Our current results only continue to demonstrate that the steps taken by the UOC (MP) this year did not convince the majority of Ukrainians that it is really a Ukrainian Church, but rather the image of the "fifth column of the Kremlin" is preserved and the results of the latest searches by law enforcement officers and the latest statements from representatives of the Church do not help them much (it is appropriate to remind that the data of our colleagues from the Razumkov Center show that 52% believe that the UOC (MP) contributes to Russian aggression).

Perhaps, if the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) had more openly and harshly condemned the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities (and regularly repeated it), if it had managed to make more convincing moves to break any ties with the aggressor, if it had punished its representatives-collaborators, and also if it worked more actively for the defense of the country, the attitude of the public would be softer. At the moment, with the current policy of the UOC (MP), it is not worth looking for sympathy from Ukrainians, who every day demonstrate resilience and courage in repelling the Moscow aggressor.




Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire


In your opinion, what should be the current policy of the Ukrainian authorities regarding the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (head - Onuphrius)?

 (% among all respondents)

100% in a column Region: where lived until February 24, 2022 Ukraine as a whole West[3] Center South East
Do nothing and do not interfere in the affairs of the UOC MP. Investigate only the offenses of individual representatives of the UOC MP, if such offenses occur 12 11 11 16 14
Establish state supervision and control the activities of the UOC MP and its representatives, but do not ban it completely 24 25 18 27 31
Completely ban the UOC-MP in Ukraine 54 57 62 48 41

Annex 2. Methodological comments on the representativeness of telephone surveys conducted during the war


Even before the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, there were a number of factors that negatively affected the representativeness of the polls (for example, the absence of a census for more than 20 years). A full-scale war, of course, greatly affects representativeness and complicates the work of sociologists, but does not make it impossible. Access to reliable data on the state of public moods remains relevant both for Ukrainians themselves and for our foreign partners (who, as the events of recent months have shown, often underestimated and did not understand Ukraine and Ukrainians).

At the same time, in order to maintain objectivity, it is necessary to understand what limitations the war imposes on the conduct of sociological surveys. First of all, we pay attention to large-scale population movements. As of December, the UN estimates the number of Ukrainian refugees at almost 7.9 million. Obviously, due to various reasons, it is difficult to consider these data unequivocally accurate, but in general, the quite significant scale of departure from the country is understandable. There is no exact data on how many of them are adult citizens, but, most likely, it is about half. Among about 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), it can be roughly estimated that about 15-20% have left the country, and it is impossible to reliably survey these citizens using telephone interviews. Even more citizens have become internally displaced persons, but they have a much smaller impact on the quality of telephone surveys, since almost all of these citizens have mobile phones and are reachable to participate in the survey (in fact, 12% of the respondents of this survey are IDPs).

Another important problem is the accessibility for the survey of the population of the territories that were occupied after February 24, 2022, due to the conduct of intensive military operations or due to interruptions in telephone connection. Now there is practically no connection. In May, 2.5-4% of respondents lived in these territories, now in the sample of residents of these territories - only 2 respondents out of 1010 surveyed. According to our estimates, the territory occupied by Russia as of the beginning of September (occupied after February 24, 2022) accounted for about 9% of the entire adult population. Taking into account the mass exodus of the population from these territories (most likely, we are talking about at least half of the population), as well as the fact that significant territories of Kharkiv and Kherson regions were liberated from this period, we estimate that no more than 3-5% of the total adult population of Ukraine were unavailable due to connection problems.

In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness can be either a generally lower willingness of citizens with "pro-Russian" attitudes to participate in surveys, or the insincerity of those who did take part in the survey (taking into account the obvious facts and prevailing opinions in the media regarding the Russian invasion , some citizens will not want to say what they really think "in public"). If to talk about the general willingness of respondents to participate in the survey, then in recent surveys we see either the same indicators or somewhat lower (although it should be borne in mind that the lower willingness to participate of "pro-Russian" citizens can be compensated by the higher willingness to participate of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens).

We conducted a methodical experiment in May, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the surveys in terms of demographic characteristics and meaningful attitudes are close to those who participated in the surveys until February 24, 2022. Preliminarily, we see some shift in the direction of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens, which is reflected in up to 4-6% deviations for individual questions (in the direction of more frequent selection of answers that correspond to the "pro-Ukrainian" interpretation of events). In our opinion, in the current conditions, this is a rather optimistic indicator.

However, this experiment does not give an answer as to how sincere the respondents are now in their answers. To assess the sincerity of responses to sensitive questions, in July we conducted another experiment using the "imagined acquaintance" method. The results showed that the respondents generally answered the survey questions honestly. That is, we have reason to say that during the interview, the respondents really answer our questions sincerely.


[1] By region of residence as of February 24, 2022.

[2] Only 1% of respondents identified themselves as Russian by nationality and at the same time as Russian-speaking. Since there were few such respondents, we did not display them on the graph.

[3] The composition of the macroregions is as follows: Western macroregion – Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi oblasts; Central macroregion – Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy, Kyiv oblasts, Kyiv city, Southern macroregion – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Odesa oblasts, Eastern macroregion – Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

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