The difference in opinion between residents of eastern and western Ukraine is wide, with people in these regions having opposing views on the conflict in their country and who is the culprit, says the latest poll by Gallup.
Interviewed: 1,400 Ukrainians and 500 Crimeans
Age: 15 and older
Date April 21-29
Languages: Ukrainian, Russian
The survey represents the opinions of 40,271,379 Ukrainian adults
“Only a slim majority of Ukrainians overall (51.2 percent) agree that the interim government in Kiev is the legitimate government of Ukraine. That figure rises only slightly to 53.5 percent when Crimeans are excluded from the results,” a poll issued by Gallup, an American research-based, global performance-management consulting company, finds.
The survey, was funded by the US government's Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates Voice of America.
According to the poll, conducted among Ukrainian and Crimean citizens before May 25 elections and before the Kiev government launched a full-scale military operation in eastern Ukraine.
One of the questions in the poll, which was called ‘Favorability toward the United States’ Role in Crisis’, asked if the US has played a “mostly positive” role or a “mostly negative role” in the Ukrainian crisis. The results showed that 58.8 percent of residents in the west think that US interference with their country’ affairs is positive. However, southern and eastern Ukraine doesn’t trust ‘the US cookies’, with only 25.9 and 17.1 percent respectively showing support for Washington.
The attitude to the US role in the Ukraine’s crisis is “ambivalent,” the poll finds, adding that 39.0 percent of Ukrainians believe it has been positive, 27.7 percent negative, and 21.6 percent remain neutral.
Meanwhile, the results of the survey also displayed that not all Ukrainian residents think they should join the EU. A whopping 84.2 percent of ‘westerners’ see their future in the EU, while only 19 percent of people in eastern Ukraine would be happy to join Europe.
The support for NATO integration in the east is even less than support for joining the EU. Only 13.1 in the east and 10.3 in the south want to join NATO. However, 53.2 of the residents in western Ukraine think that “Ukraine should return to the course of NATO integration” as showed in the poll.
However, west and east show then unanimity only on one issue: that “no government outside of Ukraine has a right to be involved in decisions about the country's future.” A total of 78.2 percent say that they agree (74.5 percent in the west and 78.6 in the east).
“Ukrainians want the freedom to make their own decisions without foreign involvement,” the poll indicates.
Neither the west nor south-east shows the same opinion on economic reform. On Gallup’s question whether Ukrainians would support economic reform “even if it meant a decline in their standard of living for one or two years,” 59.7 in the west supported this idea, while 49.5 in the south-east disagreed.
Overall, the percentage of those who agree and disagree on economic reform became equal: 37.3 for and 37.1 against.
The opinions towards Crimean referendum, in which the peninsula voted to join the Russian Federation, are also quite opposite in western and eastern Ukraine.
Some 45.8 percent of residents in eastern Ukraine agree that “the results of the referendum on Crimea’s status likely reflect the views of most people there/here” while only 16.8 percent of westerners agree with the choice of Crimeans.
According to the poll, the main differences in attitudes in the crisis-torn country “are by region and ethnicity.”
"In the last eight, nine years when we collect data in Ukraine, we see it all the time on most of the aspects of life actually,” Gallup pollster Neil Slipover told the Voice of America, “Any political situation we ask of the country, even economics in the country, the split between different regions and between different ethnic groups existed for years, and the government didn’t pay attention to it."
Eastern Ukraine has recently plunged into chaos since Kiev government launched a massive military offensive in the region. The campaign has claimed dozens of lives, both among the militias and local civilians. Schools, kindergarten and hospitals in several cities came under fire.
People of Crimea have also answered questions of the poll which says that the residents of the peninsula “are overwhelmingly likely to view Russia’s role in the crisis as positive (71.3 percent).”
A convincing 73.9 percent of Crimeans say the peninsula becoming part of Russia will make life better for themselves and their families. Just 5.5 percent disagree, adds the survey.
"[Crimea] is part of Russia now, and you saw that the support is huge for Russian government," says Esipova.
Meanwhile, the percent of Crimeans supporting US is even lower than in southeastern Ukraine.
“Crimeans are far more unified in their view that the US has played a negative (76.2 percent) rather than a positive (2.8 percent) role,” according to Gallup.
Meanwhile, 82.8 percent of Crimean people who took part in the referendum say that it was legitimate, adds the poll.
On March, 16 Crimea held a referendum on self-determination and an overwhelming majority of its population supported the plan to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The decision was prompted by the political crisis in Ukraine and the fact that the first bills approved by the new Kiev authorities infringed the rights of ethnic Russians.
The Russian parliament quickly passed several bills allowing Crimea’s accession into the federation and on March 21 they were signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.