Kovalevich: Ukrainians View Poroshenko’s Economy as a Bigger Problem than Putin
By Dmitry Kovalevich
A country without a future
The data of the new poll of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), published on October 24, show that the majority of citizens (62.1%) believe that there are real and rather serious threats for Ukraine, and 21 more 4% consider such threats probable, and only 6.8% are quite optimistic, believing that there are no serious threats for Ukraine. Another 9.7% found it difficult to answer. However, those who see or anticipate certain threats, consider such economic turmoil, impoverishment of the population, rising prices and the devaluation of the hryvnia. It is these issues that worry the Ukrainians in the first place.
Ukrainians believe the biggest threat is economic decline and crisis (57.6%). The impoverishment of the population and significant property stratification is considered a serious threat by 41.5% of the respondents, and the devaluation of the hryvnia is 35.6%.
At the same time, less than a third of the population fear 30 percent of the population of Ukraine, while the collapse of the state into several parts is even less, 28.1%. And here we should especially emphasize the fact that Ukrainians are constantly intimidated by such a prospect, and not even a public call for the separation of certain territories is often considered “separatism”, but only a refusal to share fears of the threat of the collapse of the country.
The fact that only 28% are afraid of the collapse of the state may have several explanations.
First, older people have already experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was also once considered their country.
As for young people, most of them do not connect their future with Ukraine, mentally or actually staying on earnings or studying somewhere abroad. According to another recent survey of the sociological group “Rating”, 77% of Ukrainians believe that Ukrainian youth do not have a good future at home. At the same time, all age categories demonstrated pessimism: 75% of young Ukrainians (from 18 to 35 years old), 78% of middle-aged citizens (36-50 years old) and the same number of older people (over 51 years old). Even then, commenting on the results of the survey, the editor of Business News Europe, Ben Aris noted that the Ukrainian government “has lost young people who do not want to vote and do not see a personal future in their country.” And this, in his opinion, will be a serious problem for Poroshenko,
The farther away from the war, the more fear
The reasons for such pessimism, Ben Aris called mass impoverishment, because, according to a survey, 32% of respondents said that they only have money for food, but not enough money for clothes and shoes, and 22% said that they do not have enough money even for food.
The recently announced increase in the price of gas, as well as the ongoing increase in the price of gasoline and, accordingly, on all commodity groups further highlights the issues of economic survival, which obscure the ideological problems associated with the army, religion and unity of the country. That is almost the very trinity (faith, language and army), which President Poroshenko made his electoral horse, trying to win the presidency for the second time.
In this case, we also see a certain shift in priorities, compared to 2014, when, according to a survey by the sociological service of the Ukrainian Sociology Service and Democratic Initiatives, it was precisely the seizure of the country that was the main threat (48%), the disintegration of Ukraine into parts (43% ) and only in third place were economic decline and crisis (42%).
The new poll “Democratic Initiatives” actually confirmed that for the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians, the refrigerator becomes more important than TV, that is, personal well-being becomes more important than nationalist propaganda. However, the survey also shows the persistence of certain differences between regions. For example, most of all they fear attacks from the Russian Federation in the west of Ukraine (42%), in the region most remote from the war zone, and least of all in the east of Ukraine (8%), where the majority of citizens either don’t believe the annoying propaganda about the imminent the attacks of Russia, or do not consider this something terrible, because they do not believe the TV, but their own eyes. And they understand that there is no threat to Ukraine from Russia.
Real enemies: corruption, war and oligarchs
The overwhelming majority of respondents (79%) consider corruption in government bodies as the main problem for the development of the country, 55% – war in Donbas, 32% – oligarchic dominance in the country’s economy, and 30% – the lack of professionals in government. But the “passivity of citizens” is considered a problem by only 6.5% of the respondents, which indirectly indicates that the Ukrainians after Maidan were somewhat disappointed in the opportunity to improve their position through protest actions.
In some government media, such a shift in priorities causes clear discontent, since it indicates that threats like “Russia will attack” no longer work. “Ukrainians are ready to give Putin another part of Ukraine, if only there was no corruption,” the Ukrainian journalist Sergey Kravtsev comments on the poll results.
The new survey also showed that the majority of Ukrainian citizens do not consider their country fully independent: 72% believe that it is under considerable external pressure, and only 3% do not notice such pressure. At the same time, Ukrainians call the USA (54%) and the EU (46%) the main subjects of influence. Another 39% consider the center of influence in Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and 29% – the IMF.
And in this regard, regional differences are also evident: the US influence is particularly acute in the south (60%) and in the east (70%) of the country, whereas, in the west, only 40% of respondents note it. A similar picture can be traced in assessing the influence of the EU and the USA: in the east of Ukraine, the majority of respondents consider this influence to be negative, and in the west – positive.
As for international organizations, the Ukrainians notice first of all the influence of the IMF, but only 24% consider it positive, which is not surprising given the amount of payment for heating, gas and hot water that Ukrainians will have to pay due to the requirements of the IMF.
Worse than Poroshenko? Only Rada and Cabinet
It is economic problems that are the main cause of discontent of the majority of Ukrainians in regards to the work of the president and the government. For example, according to the October survey of the Sofia Social Research Center, 79.4% disapprove of the work of President Petro Poroshenko, 88.2% of the Verkhovna Rada, and 84.1% of the Cabinet of Ministers. At the same time, in this case regional differences are also traced, since a survey of residents of cities in Ukraine, conducted earlier by the Sofia Center, showed that the degree of dissatisfaction with Poroshenko’s activities increases as it moves from west to east of the country. In Lviv Poroshenko was 56.6%, in Kiev – 73.4%, in Kharkov – 85.7%, and in Odessa – 86.1%.
The data of all these polls show, first of all, that at the next elections, the current government has little chance of winning, and Ukrainians will be inclined to support those who promise them to lower prices. And Poroshenko knows this very well, who said the other day that he would not allow such forces to come to power. “Today, populist promises to reduce the price of gas by two, three, four, some have agreed, six times. This can only be done by returning to Russian gas bondage. We barely got out of this bondage and are now trying to return there again. I will not allow the country to expand into the so-called “Russian world” under any circumstances, ”Poroshenko said on October 22. Given the unpopularity of the current leadership of Ukraine and the fact that Ukrainians consider economic problems more important than political and ideological,