Earlier, the Armed Forces were never in the spotlight of the public. And that, too, had a negative impact: those in power were gradually disintegrating the Army. The military existed formally, but when it came down to military action, a few thousand turned out to be capable of fighting out of the nominal 200,000 personnel. We had more than 5,000 generals and officers alone - what more can one say here?
However, in two years, the army has shown the ability to fight. Subsequently, it’s one of the few state institutions today that has more trust from the public than mistrust. As of 2016, 12% of Ukrainians didn’t trust it fully, 16% didn’t trust it predominantly. 37% trusted it fully and 15% trusted it predominantly. This means that around 42% of the population trust the Army. In 2013, it was quite different: 22% trusted the Army fully or predominantly, and 42% didn’t trust it.
The situation for the police is worse. Only 12% of the population fully trusts it. 61% don’t. In 2013, the balance was 7% vs more than 73%. Let’s compare the figures and slight progress will appear. Also, trust rose in 2015 when the “new police” reform was launched. Then, around 25% trusted the police. But then a number of scandals followed where law enforcers proved helpless. A criterion of trust is not so much the appearance of the cop, but the levels of crime. In 2015, they increased and the potential was lost. One important thing to note is that we don’t differentiate between the patrol police and policemen. If we did, we would probably have a gap.
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If we talk about the Church, the level of trust for it is traditionally high. I don’t think that the conflict between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate and Kyiv Patriarchate somehow affected this. People generally don’t distinguish between churches. In the eyes of society, it’s all an element of spiritual life. I would say that here the conflict is more political, than it is spiritual. And people prefer to not see the Church as a political institution.
As to the foreign policy vector, the moods in favour of European integration dominate in Ukrainian society, while support for the Russian vector has diminished significantly. In 2013, more than half of those polled saw possible re-integration with Russia as a positive thing. Now, almost 2/3 of the population see Russia as an enemy. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are critical about the slew of developments in their own country. Nearly 3/4 of the population believe that Ukraine is not moving in the right direction - that was the case in 2013 as well. This improved slightly in 2014 but slid back to previous indicators in 2016.
In addition to that, society perceives war in different ways. Southeastern regions see peace as the priority. Western and central regions have a different view. But this is understandable: the closer you people live to war, the more they want it over.
How happy Ukrainians feel? In this, by the way, we aren’t that different from the rest of the world. Young people are happier than older people; men are happier than women; educated people are happier than the uneducated. The only thing that is different in Ukraine is the impact of the political factor. When people see someone they voted for in power, it affects their overall happiness. Yet, despite all difficulties and problems, nearly 56% of Ukrainians believe that they are happy. Don’t be surprised by that. Based on polls in the world, the happiest people live in Nigeria and Columbia. The countries that have been through wars.
Translated by Anastasia Leonova
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