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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 May 26 - June 5, 2023

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


From May 26 to June 5, 2023, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". Bythemethodofcomputer-assistedtelephoneinterviews(CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,029 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except the Autonomous Republic 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 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 in May 2022, 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, not a single respondent who currently lives in occupied settlements was included in the sample (along with this, out of a total of 1,029 respondents, 38 respondents lived in a settlement that is currently occupied until February 24, 2022). It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general trends 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)


After the Russian large-scale invasion, one of the pressing issues for Ukrainian society concerned the functioning of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. At the end of 2022, after a number of high-profile cases against representatives of this Church, the KIIS raised questions about the expedient policy of the authorities. In the period until May 2023, the situation around the UOC (MP) remained highly tense (especially in the context of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra), so the KIIS again asked a similar question.

According to the results of the survey, from 78% in December 2022 to 85%, more Ukrainians believe that the state should intervene in the activities of the UOC (MP) to one degree or another. In particular, from 54% to 66%, there were more people who believe that this Church should be completely banned in Ukraine. Another 19% are in favor of a somewhat "softer" approach, which does not involve a complete ban, but involves the establishment of state control and supervision (in December 2022 - 24%).

At the same time, there were fewer respondents from 12% to 6%, who believe that nothing should be done and should not be interfered in the affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP), but only individual possible cases of offenses should be investigated.


Graph 1. What do you think 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, the majority of the population (from 76% in the East to 88% in the West and in the Center) advocates a proactive state position regarding the activities of the UOC (MP). Even in the South and East, only 9% and 11%, 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 (58% and 50%). However, even in the South and East there is a tendency towards a tougher attitude. Thus, in the South, from 48% to 58%, and in the East, from 41% to 50%, there were more people who support a complete ban on the Church.


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



A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


As in 2022, so now the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate continues its activities, due to which its perception among the population remains and even strengthens as the "fifth column of the Kremlin".

The growth of support for a complete ban on the UOC (MP) shows that in recent sharp confrontations (for example, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra) the arguments of critics of this Church were more convincing for the public. The inability "in practice" to prove the authenticity of the break with the Russian Orthodox Church, the "consequences" of the activity in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the sluggish (or simply absent) reaction to their traitor clergymen and the helpless silence in response to the annexation of their dioceses (such as Berdiansk) only crystallize negative attitude towards the Church.

At the same time, it should be remembered that despite the commitment of a large part of Ukrainians to "strong" decisions, at the same time, Ukrainians demand decisions in compliance with the law. That is, strong public moods in favor of banning or limiting the activities of the Church include a convincing legal basis.



Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire

What do you think 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[2] 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 6 5 4 9 11
Establish state supervision and monitor the activities of the UOC MP and its representatives, but do not ban it completely 19 13 17 24 26
Completely ban the UOC-MP in Ukraine 66 75 70 58 50


 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 May, 2023, the UN estimates the number of Ukrainian refugees at almost 8.3 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, 16% 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 2022, 2.5-4% of respondents lived in these territories, now the sample does not include a single respondent who currently lives in an occupied settlement (together with this, out of a total of 1029 respondents, 38 respondents lived in a settlement that is currently occupied until February 24, 2022; now these respondents live in one of the settlements on the territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine). According to our estimates, the territories that were occupied by Russia as of the beginning of September 2022 (occupied after February 24, 2022) accounted for about 9% of the total 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.


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

[2] 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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