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Dynamics of evaluation of the activities of the OUN-UPA during the Second World War: the results of a telephone survey conducted on September 7-13, 2022

The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, the Deputy Director of the KIIS


From September 7 to 13, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". By the method of computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,025 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, lived on the territory of Ukraine (within the boundaries controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were not temporarily controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), and the survey was not conducted with citizens who left the country after February 24, 2022.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 3.4% for indicators close to 50%, 3.0% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 5%

Under conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In particular, if back in May, among all the respondents we interviewed, 2.5-4% lived in the territories occupied after February 24 (and this corresponded to the percentage of those who live there, because the generation of telephone numbers was random), now, due to the occupiers turning off the telephone connection, we managed to interview fewer respondents living in the occupied settlements, in particular, their number is 0.3%. It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general tendencies were quite similar. That is, the impossibility of interviewing such respondents does not significantly affect the quality of the results. There are other factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions (see Annex 2).

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.


"And the time will come when one will say: Glory to Ukraine!, and millions will respond to the Heroes with glory!" (Stepan Bandera)


Historical discussions have not subsided in Ukraine since the restoration of independence. One of these issues is the attitude towards the OUN-UPA. In 2013, KIIS asked respondents question about the perception of the activities of the OUN-UPA during the Second World War. Now, in September 2022, we asked the respondents this question again.

As can be seen in the graph 1, since 2013, the number of those who negatively evaluate the activities of the OUN-UPA has decreased by more than 5 times - from 42% to 8%. At the same time, the share of those who positively evaluate the activities of the OUN-UPA increased from 22% to 43%. Also, from 27% to 37%, there were more people who chose the option "difficult to say for sure, negative or positive".


Graph 1. How do you, in general, assess the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) during the Second World War?


* For the correctness of the comparison, the data are calculated without Crimea, and the "weight" of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts corresponds to the "weight" of these regions as of February 2022 (i.e., without the occupied parts).


In Table 1, data are given in dynamics for individual socio-demographic categories of the population. Significant changes in the view of historical events can be traced among all considered socio-demographic categories.

In the regional dimension, in 2013, in all regions except the West, there were more people who negatively evaluated the activities of the OUN-UPA, compared to those who evaluated them positively. In 2022, in all regions, the share of those who evaluate positively outweighs the share of those who evaluate negatively. At the same time, there is a tendency that the further to the West, the more expressive positive evaluations. Thus, in the West, 57% evaluate positively against 4% who evaluate negatively. In the Center, the ratio is already 43% against 6%, in the South - 37% against 11%, in the East - 27% against 16%. It is important to note that in the South and East, the majority actually either chose the option "difficult to say for sure, positively or negatively" or (less often) "Don't know".

Similar changes also occur in terms of age. In all age categories, there is an improvement in the attitude towards the OUN-UPA, and now, among all age categories, the share of those who evaluate positively outweighs the share of those who evaluate negatively.

Among the linguistic and ethnic categories, Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians rate the OUN-UPA the best - 52% of positive evaluations against 5% of negative evaluations. Among bilingual Ukrainians, the ratio is 34% versus 6%, and among Russian-speaking Ukrainians – 36% versus 11%. There are not enough Russian-speaking Russians in the sample for reliable evaluations, but at the trend level we can talk about 55% of negative evaluations and 6% of positive evaluations. Positive changes have been observed since 2013 for all linguistic and ethnic categories (including Russian-speaking Russians).


Table 1. How do you, in general, evaluate the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) during the Second World War?

100% in a row 2013 2022
Positively Difficult to say for sure Negatively Don't know / Refusal Positively Difficult to say for sure Negatively Don't know / Refusal
Region where lived until February 24, 2022                
West 47 27 21 5 57 32 4 7
Center 19 32 40 10 43 37 6 14
South 7 22 54 17 37 40 11 12
East 9 19 66 6 27 43 16 15
18-29 years 28 26 34 12 43 46 4 7
30-39 years 20 26 42 12 42 44 4 10
40-49 years 22 28 41 8 49 33 6 12
50-59 years 22 26 46 6 45 35 11 10
60-69 years 20 29 41 10 45 28 10 16
70+ years 16 25 50 10 29 36 16 18
Linguistic and ethnic categories                
Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians 34 28 30 8 52 33 5 11
Bilingual Ukrainians 16 30 44 10 34 47 6 12
Russian-speaking Ukrainians 12 23 51 14 36 41 11 13
Russian-speaking Russians* 4 21 66 8 6 26 55 13

*  In the 2022 sample, out of 1,025 respondents, only 22 belong to this category. Therefore, the data are indicative for understanding general tendencies.



A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


The historical sphere (as, in general, the entire humanitarian sphere) has suffered especially strongly from the destructive influence of many decades of Soviet propaganda, distortion of historical facts and planting of deliberately false pro-Soviet narratives. In the 1990s and especially since the 2000s, post-Soviet Russia "picked up the flag" and continued the case of a distorted approach to pages from the history of Ukraine (as well as some Ukrainian politicians, historians, journalists, etc.). In the film industry alone, numerous films and TV series planted a negative image of Ukrainian insurgents. Unfortunately, Ukraine did not have sufficient resources for informational countermeasures equivalent in effectiveness, and in a number of cases chose a too tolerant and diplomatic approach.

However, since the times of perestroika, new facts began to appear, the Ukrainian education system was changing, and Ukrainians still received more adequate information about Ukraine's past. Although this process was slow, gradually, even by 2014, the perception of the historical past was changing for the better. I draw attention to the fact that in 2013, despite a decade of aggressive propaganda (including modern Russia), only 42% had a negative attitude towards the OUN-UPA.

Russian aggression since 2014 has become a powerful impetus for many Ukrainians to rethink historical issues, and on February 24, 2022, a "knockout" was inflicted on the Russian / Soviet version of the Ukrainian past. It is necessary to understand that it is very difficult to convince those who already have a negative attitude. Therefore, the reduction from 42% to 8% of those who have a negative attitude is a significant achievement, especially in the regional dimension.

At the same time, a large part of those who now answer "Difficult to say for sure, positively or negatively" or "Don't know", means a lack of information for many Ukrainians on this issue. That is, a large number of our compatriots already understand that it is wrong to follow the Russian-Soviet version of the negative view of the OUN-UPA. At the same time, they still do not have enough facts and arguments to start taking a positive attitude. Let us hope that Ukrainian politicians, historians, journalists will responsibly approach the issue of further impartial study and coverage of the role of the OUN-UPA in the history of Ukraine.

Separately, we would like to note that our question specifically concerned the assessment of the activities of the OUN-UPA during the Second World War. Surveys of colleagues from other companies show that now more than 80% consider OUN-UPA participants to be "fighters for the Independence of Ukraine." That is, at one level in the minds of people, members of the OUN-UPA are recognized fighters for independence, but at another level (activities during the Second World War) certain "gaps" remain.



Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire


How do you, in general, assess the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) during the Second World War? (% among all respondents)

100% in a column Region: where lived until February 24, 2022 Ukraine as a whole West[1] Center South East
Negatively 8 4 6 11 16
Difficult to say for sure whether negatively or positively 37 32 37 40 43
Positively 43 57 43 37 27
DON'T KNOW (DO NOT READ) 11 7 13 12 12

Annex 2. Methodological comments on the representativeness of telephone surveys conducted during the war



Even before the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, there were a number of factors that negatively affected the representativeness of the polls (for example, the absence of a census for more than 20 years). A full-scale war, of course, greatly affects representativeness and complicates the work of sociologists, but does not make it impossible. Access to reliable data on the state of public moods remains relevant both for Ukrainians themselves and for our foreign partners (who, as the events of recent months have shown, often underestimated and did not understand Ukraine and Ukrainians).

At the same time, in order to maintain objectivity, it is necessary to understand what limitations the war imposes on the conduct of sociological surveys. First of all, we pay attention to large-scale population movements. In September, the UN report mentioned 7.4 million Ukrainian refugees. Obviously, due to various reasons, it is difficult to consider these data to be unequivocally accurate, but in general, the rather significant scale of departure from the country is clear. There is no exact data on how many of them are adult citizens, but, most likely, it is about half. Among about 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), it can be roughly estimated that about 13-15% have left the country, and it is impossible to reliably survey these citizens using telephone interviews. Even more citizens have become internally displaced persons, but they have a much smaller impact on the quality of telephone surveys, since almost all of these citizens have mobile phones and are reachable to participate in the survey (in fact, 16% of the respondents of this survey are IDPs).

Another important problem is the accessibility for the survey of the population of the territories that were occupied after February 24, 2022, due to the conduct of intensive military operations or due to interruptions in telephone connection. Now there is practically no connection. In May, 2.5-4% of respondents lived in these territories, now in the sample of residents of these territories - 0.3%. According to our current estimates, the territory occupied by Russia as of the beginning of September (occupied after February 24, 2022) accounted for about 9% of the total adult population. Taking into account the mass exodus of the population from these territories (most likely, we are talking about at least half of the population), we estimate that no more than 3-5% of the total adult population of Ukraine were inaccessible due to connection problems. Successful actions and the liberation of a number of territories in the Kharkiv region further reduce this percentage.

In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness can be either a generally lower willingness of citizens with "pro-Russian" attitudes to participate in surveys, or the insincerity of those who did take part in the survey (taking into account the obvious facts and prevailing opinions in the media regarding the Russian invasion , some citizens will not want to say what they really think "in public"). If to talk about the general willingness of respondents to participate in the survey, then in recent surveys we see either the same indicators or somewhat lower (although it should be borne in mind that the lower willingness to participate of "pro-Russian" citizens can be compensated by the higher willingness to participate of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens).

We conducted a methodical experiment in May, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the surveys in terms of demographic characteristics and substantive attitudes are close to those who participated in the surveys until February 24, 2022. Preliminarily, we see some shift in the direction of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens, which is reflected in up to 4-6% deviations for individual questions (in the direction of more frequent selection of answers that correspond to the "pro-Ukrainian" interpretation of events). In our opinion, in the current conditions, this is a rather optimistic indicator. However, this experiment does not give an answer as to how sincere the respondents are now in their answers.

[1] The composition of the macroregions is as follows: Western macroregion – Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi oblasts; Central macroregion – Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy, Kyiv oblasts, Kyiv city, Southern macroregion – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Odesa oblasts, Eastern macroregion – Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

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