Between February 14 and February 24, 2015 Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted the nation-wide public opinion poll. The survey was conducted in 108 settlements in all regions of Ukraine, (except the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) according to the random sample, which is representative for adult population of Ukraine (aged 18 and over). Totally 2013 respondents were interviewed face-to-face during the field stage. In Donetsk and Luhansk regions the poll was conducted both in territories controlled by Ukraine’s government forces, and territories controlled by separatist forces. Statistical sample error (with probability of 0.95 and design-effect of 1.5) does not exceed 3.3% for indicators close to 50%; 2.8% for indicators close to 25%; 2.0% for indicators close to 10%; 1.4% for indicators close to 5%.
Russia’s information warfare against Ukraine helped Russia to reach success in annexation of Crimea, to gain support for those actions from its population and to provoke the war in Donbass. Information warfare is of the same importance for defense of Ukraine’s unity and independence as military actions. It is unknown what is more effective in this struggle. It could be that providing a part of resources, spent on the war, not for mobilization, weapons and equipment, but for defense from Russian propaganda, would be more efficient way to save the lives of our military men than direct financing of weaponization.
Effective action on countering Russian propaganda in Donbass can reduce the number of people who enroll into separatist forces, and also deprive the aggressor of the opportunity to involve the people from other eastern and southern regions of Ukraine into the confrontation. And if to succeed in dispelling some myths shared by the Russia people, and to decrease support of Putin’s actions among the citizens of Russia, it would significantly weaken the Russia’s abilities to escalate military actions.
The idea of creating Russian Propaganda Efficiency Index (RPE)
1. It is impossible to conduct counterpropaganda without estimation of its effectiveness. The efficiency of counterpropaganda can be measured as the reduction of Russian propaganda efficiency per unit of expenses. That is why the index of Russian propaganda efficiency is needed.
2. Index of Russian propaganda efficiency, which we offer, can become a tool for evaluation of Ukraine’s counterpropaganda measures in different regions and among different social groups.
3. Under efficiency of Russian propaganda in Ukraine we mean the spread of supporting main ideas of Russian propaganda among citizens of Ukraine, or among people in different regions.
The idea is to select such statements of official Russian propaganda, which are trusted by more than 80% of Russian citizens, in other words – statements which proved their effectiveness in Russia and on occupied territory.
We think that the core of propaganda is a quasi-logical chain of reasoning:
Euromaidan was organized by Americans and nationalists → as a result of Euromaidan, the power was taken by nationalists, who pose a threat to Russian-speaking people → Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were in danger → Crimea managed to avoid the threat by joining Russia, but Eastern Ukrainian oblasts rebelled and demand autonomy and security guarantees → nationalists who seized the power started the war against their own people.
So we developed a number of statements which cover the main theses of this quasi-logical chain – statements on Euromaidan, attitudes toward United States, support to annexation of Crimea, disapproval of ATO, confidence in Russian media, distrust the Ukrainian media.
Index of RPE can be used to evaluate changes over time in propaganda efficiency and to compare harm caused by Russian propaganda to people from different regions and from different social-demographic groups. The mean value of RPE index for general population of Ukraine is 26; now we can’t evaluate dynamics because it is the first round of the survey.
By gender and age:
– There is no essential differences by gender and age (see tables in appendix): female (RPE = 28) are slightly more amenable to propaganda, than male (RPE = 25),
– People aged over 70 years (RPE = 29) are slightly more likely to believe in Russian propaganda than in average for Ukraine (RPE = 26).
By level of education:
– The influence of education is also not crucial – people with higher education are slightly less amenable to propaganda (RPE=24) than in average for Ukraine.
– The most significant differences in predisposition to believe Russian propaganda are connected with a region of residence. Russian propaganda has the least influence on people in Western (index of RPE=12) and Central oblasts (RPE=19)
– In Southern oblasts the index is significantly higher (RPE = 32)
– In Eastern oblasts (RPE=48) the index of RPE is four times more than in Western regions. We can see that Eastern region is problematic and needs serious efforts to counter Russian propaganda. The situation in Southern oblasts is also not fully trouble-free.
– As we can see on Chart 2, Russian propaganda (aside from Donbass) is strongly influencing the residents of Kharkiv (index of RPE = 50) and Odessa (index of RPE = 43) oblasts.
– The situation in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya oblasts is much better (index of RPE = 28-29).
– In Kyiv the situation is similar to those of the other places in Northern and Central Ukraine (index of RPE=19).
Unfortunately, sample size of 2000 respondents is not sufficient to get reliable figures for each oblast of Ukraine. If to aggregate the data from one or two more surveys, we can get representative results for each oblast. So the numbers presented here for oblasts are just indicative.
But in spite of this, we can suppose that there is a strong need for active counterpropaganda actions in Kharkiv and Odessa oblasts.
Components of Russian Propaganda Efficiency Index (KIIS surveys, frequency tables, February 2015)
1. Please tell me which of the two following statements comes closer to your opinion? Euromaidan was…
2. Do you support Crimea’s accession to Russia?
3. What is your general attitude toward the United States?
4. Anti-terrorist operation in Eastern oblasts of Ukraine (ATO) is a punitive operation against ordinary people
5. Do you trust Russian mass media (TV channels, radio, newspapers)?
6. Do you trust Ukrainian mass media (TV channels, radio, newspapers)?
*Western region: Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivetska oblast; Central region: Kyiv, Kyivska, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblast; Southern region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblast; Eastern region: Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblast.