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How many Ukrainians have close relatives and friends who were injured / killed by the Russian invasion: 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". 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), 2013 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 Ukrainian authorities 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 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 2013 respondents, 70 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 for a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.
How many Ukrainians have close relatives and friends who were injured / killed due to the Russian invasion
The absolute majority of Ukrainians - 78% - have close relatives or friends who were injured or killed due to the Russian invasion. Among those who have such close relatives or friends, the average number (the median value was used) was 7. That is, on average, such respondents have 7 close relatives or friends who were injured or killed.
- 64% of Ukrainians have at least one close relative or friend who was injured (on average, have 5 injured close people),
- and 63% have at least one close relative or friend who died (on average they have 3 deceased loved ones).
Graph 1. How many of your close relatives or friends do you know who were injured / killed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine after February 24, 2022?
In the graph below, the data are shown in a regional dimension. In all regions of Ukraine the vast majority of the population have close relatives or friends who have been injured or killed by the Russian invasion. The indicator ranges from 70% in the East to 80% in the West.
Graph2. Distribution of answers in the regional dimension
A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:
Russia's war against Ukraine formed a tragic collective experience for the absolute majority of Ukrainians. In all corners of Ukraine, the majority of the population has relatives or friends who were injured or killed as a result of the Russian invasion. Both the people of the West and the people of the East are experiencing the same terrible losses caused by Russia. We can talk about the pain of Ukrainians for losses and maddened anger at enemies.
The strong emotional coloring of this experience acts as a factor that, on the one hand, brings different Ukrainians closer together and allows them to better understand each other. On the other hand, it contributes to the unity of Ukrainians to work together to expel the enemy and achieve justice - punishment for the wrongs caused.
Against this background, it becomes clear why Russian propaganda regarding "common history" / "common culture" is so hopeless in Ukraine. In particular, this applies to "grandfathers fought". Although the Second World War was a great tragedy for Ukrainians as well, this experience is now completely distant in time. Now Ukrainian families have felt the grief that continues to this day. Therefore, the current emotions will be imprinted "away from Moscow" for a long time. In addition, this experience adds stability and uncompromisingness regarding possible concessions to Russia - if you have so many relatives and friends injured or killed, then how can you talk about concessions?
Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire
How many of your close relatives or friends do you know who were injured as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine after February 24, 2022?
(% among all respondents)
How many of your close relatives or friends do you know who died as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine after February 24, 2022?
(% among all respondents)
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 2013 respondents, 70 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 nnot 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.
 The region is determined by where the respondent lived until February 24, i.e. IDPs who, for example, lived in the Donetsk oblast until February 24, but now live in another oblast, are considered residents of the East for the analysis.
 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.