What Ukrainians think about Euromaidan five years on: survey

 

Maidan, Ukraine

At the end of 2018, the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity commissioned an all-Ukrainian sociological study “Public perception of the events and consequences o the Revolution of Dignity, and views on the commemoration of these events and the participants” focusing on the public attitude towards the Euromaidan events and on the ways of remembrance of the revolution.

In December 2018, the Lviv-based pollster SocioInform conducted a survey of a representative sample in all Ukrainian oblasts excluding occupied areas and the Museum presented its results. And here is what the study found.

Regions of Ukraine and oblasts. Click the image to enlarge.

Reasons for the Euromaidan protests

According to the poll results, more than one-third of all respondents (38%) believe the revolution was conditioned by attempt of the team of then president Viktor Yanukovych to usurp power. Some 28% believe that an economic downturn gave rise to the protests, another 28% regarded boosted corruption as the background for the revolution. Other reasons mentioned were strengthening of oligarchic powers (24%), a conflict between regions (23%), systematic violation of the civil rights and freedoms (23%), pro-Russian policies of the government (18%). Some 13% still see an effort of the Western countries to tighten their control over Ukraine as a precondition for Euromaidan.

The respondents believe that the immediate cause that brought people to the streets was the attack of the Berkut riot police on the peaceful protesters (55%) or the abrupt decision to end talks on a Ukraine-EU Association Agreement (47%) or the desire to topple Yanukovych and his team (35%). Some 21% of the surveyed still believe that people were paid for participation in the protests and it was the reason why the Euromaidan events started.

Three-fourths (74%) followed the developments of the Revolution of Dignity, and 32% followed them closely. Thus, Ukrainians were highly involved.

What was Euromaidan?

Almost every second poll participant (49%) perceives the revolutionary events as the struggle of Ukrainians for their rights and European values. Every third respondent (35%) believes they were a struggle for Ukrainian independence. Meanwhile, every sixth surveyed considers the events as a coup supported by the opposition (17%) or by the Western nations (15%), following the key narratives of the Russian propaganda.

Respondents from western and central Ukraine believe that Euromaidan fought for “rights and European values” (68%, 56%); their second choice was the “fight for independence” (42%, 40%). Meanwhile, the most popular choice in eastern Ukraine was “a coup orchestrated by the West” (29%), while southern Ukraine opted for “a coup prepared by the [political] opposition” (30%).

Key events

Among the key milestones of the Euromaidan protests are the 20 November 2013 violent crackdown on the students by the Berkut riot police (45%), the bloody shooting on Instytutska on 20 February 2014 (42%). Other top milestone Euromaidan events, according to the survey, were the first deaths of the protesters (37.3%), the flight of then-President Viktor Yanukovych (32.1%), “baptism by fire” at barricades on Hrushevskoho (31%).

What it was and how it worked

Every tenth respondent didn’t find the Euromaidan a significant event. However, most of the pollees considered it a nation-wide event (69%), since various ways of life supported it (66%).

Almost the same shares of poll participants believe that solidarity of different Ukrainian regions (64,1%) and wide popular support among Kyiv residents (66,6%) made the Revolution of Dignity possible.

The opinions on how the Maidan operated differ. More than half (60%) see the self-organization of the citizens behind it, while about a half (49%) believe that the opposition parties sponsored the tent camp and stage.

The South (56%) and East (44%) believe that the Euromaidan has split Ukraine, meanwhile, the West (69%) and Center (53%) think that it has united the country.

As for the conflict itself, over 50% sided with the protesters and volunteers. More than half of the respondents discountenanced the authorities and pro-government anti-Maidan protesters. The main adversary of the Euromaidan was Viktor Yanukovych and his closest allies, 71% of the pollees believe.

Some 16% of pollees took a direct part in the Maidan events with 51% of them in Kyiv, 54% in other city or village. 97% of then-participants took part on the Euromaidan side, 52% of them were average “maidaners,” 34,2% supported the protesters with foodstuffs, money etc.

Attitude-2014

More than half of the respondents (52%) were for the Euromaidan protests, with only 6% of supporters of then-authorities. A quarter (25%) supported neither authorities nor the opposition and were against any protests in the country.

The regional divide shows that no region supported Yanukovych and his allies, anti-Maidan protesters, law enforcers, opposition leaders. Meanwhile, Maidan civil volunteers had the support of all regions. Euromaidan protesters were hugely supported by the West and Center with a neutral attitude to them in the South and East. The Maidan self-defense and the Western countries had a positive attitude in the West and Center and negative in the South and East.

Thus, the Euromaidan protests were not generally opposed by the mostly Russian-speaking eastern and southern oblasts as Russian propaganda tried to push it. The East and South were neutral and didn’t favor Yanukovych and the Anti-Maidan.

The attitude five years on

As five years have passed from the end of the Revolution of Dignity, 35% of the respondents still support the Euromaidan, 4% of them didn’t support it before but comprehended its value later on.

Current attitude to the Maidan.

Some 28% keeps the negative opinion on the events, another 27% are somewhat disappointed or doubt in Maidan’s appropriateness. The press release suggests that the latter figures might be linked to the fact that 42% think they lost from the revolution, 22% feel benefited from it.

As of now, 16-32% of Maidan supporters are not sure that it was needed then.

“After all, we gained the signed EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, visa waiver, raised national consciousness, the growth of unity and patriotism, we ditched from the oppression of the corrupt government and Russia. Nevertheless, the Revolution of Dignity kick-started such negative events as the war on Russia, lost Crimea and a part of the Donbas, mass deaths in the east, as well as the economic crisis and power vacuum,” the summary of the survey reads.

Top positive effects of the Euromaidan, according to the survey.

The results showing what is supposed to be the effects of the Euromaidan may also indicate that years-long Russian propaganda has worked and many Ukrainians now link two non-related events – the Euromaidan and the Russian aggression – as having the cause-effect relationship. As well as they gear the effects of the Russian aggressive actions to the Euromaidan.

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