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Dynamics of prevalence among the population of split narratives: December 2022

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

 

During December 4-27, 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), 2,005 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 the 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 2.4% for indicators close to 50%, 2.1% for indicators close to 25%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.1% - 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 3 respondents (since 2005) 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.

 

Approach to the study of the prevalence of "split" narratives in Ukrainian society

 

The information war and the attempt to plant pro-Russian narratives among the population continue with high intensity against Ukraine. In September 2022, we studied how receptive Ukrainians are to narratives of "split". In total, we asked respondents questions about 7 such possible "split lines".

In December 2022, we re-asked question about 3 particularly serious (in terms of potentially destructive consequences) narratives to track dynamics:

  • "There is a serious conflict between the political and military leadership of Ukraine";
  • "The authorities of Ukraine are ready to make unacceptable compromises with Russia";
  • "The West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia".

 

For each "split line", respondents were offered two statements that are opposite interpretations, one of which indicates that the respondent agrees that there is such a "split", and the second - that, on the contrary, there is no "split". The respondent had to choose one of the statements with which he/she agreed to a greater extent, and also indicate whether he/she completely agreed or only partialy agreed. To minimize the order effect, all 3 pairs of statements were read to different respondents in a different order, and “inside” each pair of statements were also read in a different order.

 


. "Conflict between the political and military leadership of Ukraine"

 

Only 10% of Ukrainians now believe that there is a serious conflict between the political and military leadership, and the share of such respondents decreased from 14% to 10% from September to December. Instead, from 71% to 77%, there were more people who are convinced that the political leadership of Ukraine and the military command are acting in harmony as one team with the common goal of winning the war.

 

Graph 1. Pair of statements regarding the conflict between the political and military leadership of Ukraine

 

 

. "The authorities of Ukraine are ready to make unacceptable compromises with Russia"

 

Between September and December, there were slightly more people who believe that the authorities are ready to make unacceptable compromises with Russia (from 5% to 7%), but at the same time, the absolute majority (84%) of Ukrainians still believe that the government is not going to and will not make unacceptable compromises with Russia (in September it was 87%).

 

Graph 2. Pair of statements regarding the readiness of the Ukrainian authorities to make unacceptable concessions

 

 

. "The West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia"

 

Also, only 15% of Ukrainians believe that the West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia (the same was true in September). Simultaneously from 73% to 76%, there were more people who believe that the West continues to support Ukraine and expects the end of the war on terms acceptable to Ukraine.

 

Graph 3. Pair of statements about the readiness of the West to continue supporting Ukraine

 

 

Prevalence of "split" narratives in the regional dimension and among linguistic categories of the population

 

Although confidence in "unifying" interpretations decreases slightly from West to East, in fact, in all regions, the absolute majority optimistically assess the coherence of the actions of the military and political leadership, the government's commitment to uncompromising resistance and continued support from the West.

A similar tendency applies to linguistic categories. Although Russian-speaking Ukrainians (who consider themselves Ukrainian by nationality, but mostly speak Russian at home) are somewhat less certain, but even among them only an absolute minority adhere to the "split" narratives.

 

Table 1. Pairs of statements by individual categories of the population, %

                              (the sum in each column for each pair is 100%)

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians
Pair 1              
There are serious conflicts between the political leadership of the country (President, Government, etc.) and the army command, the parties pursue different interests 10 10 12 10 8 13 8
The political leadership of Ukraine (President, Government, etc.) and the command of the army act in harmony as one team with the common goal of winning the war 78 80 74 73 81 74 72
Difficult to say / Refusal 12 10 14 17 10 13 19
Pair 2              
The authorities of Ukraine are ready and can make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 6 5 9 9 5 8 11
The authorities of Ukraine are not going to and will not make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 87 86 81 77 87 83 76
Difficult to say / Refusal 7 9 10 14 7 9 13
Pair 3              
The West is getting tired of Ukraine and its support is weak. The West wants to press for Ukraine to make concessions to Russia 13 16 16 13 11 16 22
The West continues to seriously help Ukraine to the extent possible. The West wants the war to end on terms acceptable to Ukraine 80 76 72 73 80 74 65
Difficult to say / Refusal 7 8 12 14 8 10 13

 

 


A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:

 

Information security of the state and information hygiene of ordinary Ukrainians are important elements of national resistance. Since the full-scale invasion (and actually since 2014), many observers have emphasized that Ukraine can be defeated only by "shaking it from within." For example, in a recent interview with UP, the international editor of "The Economist" Arkadii Ostrovskyi expressed the opinion that "Ukraine cannot be defeated from the outside now. It is probably possible to blow it up internally. That's why unity is so important".

The promotion of different narratives by agents of Russian influence is aimed at undermining Ukraine from the inside (in particular, there are a number of public figures of various professions in Ukraine who consciously or unconsciously act as guides of Russian narratives). At the moment, we see a rather optimistic picture that the absolute majority of Ukrainians unitedly reject the ridiculous Russian narratives. Regional unity is especially important, because until the full-scale invasion there was still appreciable regional differentiation along different views (which was heavily exploited by the Russians), but for now, "East and West together" is clearly true. The same applies to the language of communication.

However, vigilance must be maintained because the enemy is insidious and capable of modifying nonsensical narratives into more subtle and less visible forms and thus destabilize the country from within.

 

           

Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire

 

Ukrainian society actively discusses various issues related to the internal situation, as well as relations with Western partners. I will read you a couple of statements, and you tell me which statement you agree with to a greater extent. AFTER THE RESPONDENT CHOOSES THE STATEMENT: You completely agree or rather agree with it? RANDOMIZATION OF READING PAIRS OF STATEMENTS AND "INSIDE" PAIRS OF INDIVIDUAL STATEMENTS

 

SCALE OF ANSWERS FOR EACH PAIR

Completely agree with statement #1 1
Rather, agree with statement #1 2
Completely agree with statement #2 3
Rather, agree with statement #2 4
DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ) 5
REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ) 6

 

PAIR 1

The West is getting tired of Ukraine and its support is weak. The West wants to press for Ukraine to make concessions to Russia 1
The West continues to seriously help Ukraine to the extent possible. The West wants the war to end on terms acceptable to Ukraine 2

 

PAIR 2

There are serious conflicts between the political leadership of the country (President, Government, etc.) and the army command, the parties pursue different interests 1
The political leadership of Ukraine (President, Government, etc.) and the command of the army act in harmony as one team with the common goal of winning the war 2

 

PAIR 3

The authorities of Ukraine are ready and can make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 1
The authorities of Ukraine are not going to and will not make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 2

 


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 communication. 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 3 respondents out of 2005 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 communication 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.


6.1.2023
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