Kyiv, Ukraine – A new national Ukraine poll (which included residents of Crimea), released today by IRI, found that, despite claims by Russia, Russian-speaking citizens living in Ukraine are not under pressure or threatened because of their language. Support for closer ties with Europe has increased since IRI’s last poll, with a majority now favoring joining the European Union and a majority of respondents in all regions believe Crimea should remain a part of Ukraine in some manner.
Majority of Russian-Speaking Citizens in Ukraine Don’t Feel Threatened
When asked if they felt Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine were under pressure or threat because of their language, 85 percent of Ukrainians said no. Particularly interesting is the fact that 66 percent of ethnic Russians also felt no pressure or threat, nor do those living in the east and south (including Crimea) of Ukraine, with 74 percent in both regions saying Russian-speaking citizens were not under pressure or threat because of their language.
When asked if they support the decision of the Russian Federation to send its army to protect Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine, an overwhelming majority of 81 percent said no, with 67 percent in the south responding no and 61 percent in the east opposing the move.
These findings contradict claims by Moscow that Russian-speaking citizens are being threatened, a claim many believe is a pretext to further Russian incursions into Ukraine.
Majority Support Closer Ties with Europe
Support for closer ties with Europe has also grown over the past month. Fifty-two percent of respondents now favor joining the European Union over the Russian-led Customs Union, up from 41 percent in February. Although divisions remain between the east and west of Ukraine, 53 percent said they would vote to join the European Union if a referendum were held. When asked the same question about joining the Customs Union, 28 percent said they would vote to join.
Majority Consider Russia’s Actions an Invasion
Sixty-eight percent view the referendum in Crimea as an attempt to break Ukraine apart and as a threat to Ukraine’s independence, a view held by 40 percent in the east and 48 percent in the south.
When asked what the status of Crimea should be a majority in all regions said it should remain a part of Ukraine in some manner (west 91 percent, center 85 percent, south 57 percent, east 52 percent). This is in stark contrast to the 97 percent of voters who supposedly voted in support of the referendum to join Russia.
More than half (54 percent) of all people interviewed consider Russia’s actions to be an invasion and occupation of independent Ukraine, the most widely held opinion in all regions and across all social groups.
The poll was conducted in all regions of Ukraine (including Crimea) from March 14-26, 2014 with a randomly selected sample of 1,200 permanent residents of Ukraine older than the age of 18 and eligible to vote. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 2.8 percent, and the response rate was 63 percent.