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How to punish corruptors: according to the law, even if slowly, or as soon as possible, even if in violation of the law

The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, executive director of KIIS


From November 29 to December 9, 2023, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". Bythemethodofcomputer-assistedtelephoneinterviews(CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,031 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR 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 Ukrainian authorities 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 abroad.

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. KIIS previously cited factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions.

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative for the population of Ukraine living in the territory under the control of the Government, and allow a fairly reliable analysis of the public moods of the population.



Corruptors should be punished according to the law or as soon as possible


Surveys by KIIS and other companies testify that after a large-scale war, the #1 problem for Ukrainians is corruption. In recent months, we have seen numerous reports of exposure of politicians or officials. In the period before the invasion (namely, in October 2020), KIIS raised questions about the mechanism of punishing politicians in general[1]. Then 67% of the respondents answered that "certain politicians should be tried long and thoroughly according to the laws, even if it takes a long time." At the same time, 25% had a more radical view ("most politicians deserve people's massacre, even if it is illegal").


Now, in December 2023, we have adapted the questions to the current context of the fight against corruption. As can be seen, more than half of Ukrainians - 55% - want the fastest possible punishment of corruptors, even if it is due to violations of laws. 42% of Ukrainians hold another opinion, that it is necessary to punish according to the law, even if it takes a long time. The remaining 3% were undecided.


Graph1. We would also like to hear your thoughts on certain desirable aspects of Ukrainian society. Now I will read out pairs of statements, and you tell me which of the statements you agree with to a greater extent.



The less respondents trust the courts, the greater the demand to punish as quickly as possible, even in violation of the law. Thus, among respondents who trust the courts, 41% speak of the need for the fastest possible punishment. At the same time, among respondents who do not trust the courts, 63% already do. A similar trend can be observed in relation to trust in the police.

At the same time, there is an opposite trend in the case of trust in the President. In this case, those who trust the President insist more on the fastest possible punishment.


Graph2. Punishment of corruptors depending on whether trust / difficult to say / do not trust certain social institutions


In all regions, except for the East, the desire to punish the corruptors as quickly as possible prevails. In the East, opinions were divided exactly in half.


Graph3. Punishment of corruptors in the regional dimension



A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


Corruption remains one of the biggest irritants in Ukrainian society. Against the background of critically low trust in the courts and the prosecutor's office, more and more Ukrainians will not see legal ways to achieve justice. Each subsequent high-profile corruption case will be perceived even more emotionally, and without proper channeling of righteous public indignation, destructive discontent will grow, which will shake Ukrainian society.

 We can already see that the majority of Ukrainians demand the punishment of corruptors, even in violation of the law (and compared to the period before the invasion, there is a radicalization of views). In fact, this is an alarming trend, as it contradicts the development of a modern European state governed by the rule of law. The latest revelations of individual officials can only be an argument for a certain time that the fight against corruption is really underway (and at the beginning of October, most people really perceived it as a sign of attempts to fight corruption). However, the public expects real sentences and real responsibility. Therefore, the "favorite" method of delaying and, as a result, "burying cases" may save someone's corrupt friend, but may have a devastating effect on the support of the authorities in the near future. And if judges, for example, try to hide behind "judicial independence", then politicians are responsible to voters and can easily lose power in the next election.  

Along with this, there is a separate appeal to our media and public figures. Ukrainian society is psychologically tired and more susceptible to loud headlines. It must be understood that in any case active fight against corruption leads to an even greater number of high-profile revelations (all the more so against the background of the opening of electronic declarations). The same corruption exposure can be presented in the media as a sign of hopeless corruption and attempts to really overcome corruption. We call for responsible submission of information about the fight against corruption in the media space. It is necessary to talk about it, but to talk constructively, with an eye on the long-term, gradual struggle. To speak in such a way that Ukrainians do not despair, but, on the contrary, feel elation and a desire to continue working in this direction.


Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire


We would also like to hear your thoughts on certain desirable aspects of Ukrainian society. Now I will read out pairs of statements, and you tell me which of the statements you agree with to a greater extent. RANDOMIZATION OF STATEMENTS WITHIN A PAIR

1 Corrupt politicians and officials must be tried according to the law, even if it takes a long time
2 Corrupt politicians and officials must be punished as soon as possible, even if there is a violation of the law



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