By John Helmer, Moscow
After the steady rise of enthusiasm for war in Ukraine voter polls through the summer, Ukrainian politicians in favour of the military campaign against Donetsk, Lugansk, and Russia, have suffered a dramatic loss of support across the country.
This was reported in Kiev on September 3. In the first countrywide poll taken since the Ukrainian Army took heavy casualties and retreated from the Donbass at the end of August, voters who had supported the pro-war Radical Party, led by Oleg Lyashko (image-2), have dropped from 22.2% to 13.1%. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s (3) bloc, Patriots of Ukraine, which includes the police and national guard minister, Arsen Avakov (4), has collapsed from more than 9% to 3.7%. Yulia Timoshenko’s (6) Fatherland party has fallen below her former proteges to 3.5%. The Svoboda (“Freedom”) party of Oleg Tyagnibok (1), the candidate of the US Embassy in Kiev and the State Department, and Pravy Sektor (“Right Sector”), the party behind the national guard formations fighting in the east, have lost virtually all their support outside the far western regions of the country; across the Ukraine they are now polling just 2.5% and 1%.
The parliamentary election scheduled for October 26, according to US and Ukrainian sociologists in Kiev “can now be predicted by the misery index – rising war casualties, rampant inflation and unemployment – plus fear of winter.”
The shift in Ukraine voter sentiment has been identified by the Kyiv International Institute for Sociology (KIIS), headed by Vladimir Paniotto. Its polling has been funded independently of the US and Canadian governments, the European Commission, and Ukrainian oligarchs who have sponsored polling by Gallup and by the Razumkov centre in Kiev. For the results of earlier KIIS voter surveys, click here.
The latest KIIS poll asked what party or bloc Ukrainian voters would choose if the parliamentary election were held now. The polling was carried out between August 23 and September 2. The results were published this week on the KIIS website in Ukrainian and Russian. Except for Lugansk, the regions of the country were sampled by face-to-face interviews with 2,040 respondents. According to KIIS, the fighting in Lugansk made it impossible for the pollsters to sample and interview voters, but Donetsk was covered. Sampling error was between 1.4% and 3.3%, depending on the size of the voter percentages.
According to the poll, 14.9% of Ukrainians say they will not participate in the parliamentary vote. Another 24.9% claim they have yet to decide whom to vote for. No regional breakdown of the new voter preferences has been reported yet by KIIS.
When the non-voters are taken out of the count, the KIIS poll reveals that 37.1% will vote for the alliance of Petro Poroshenko (7), elected president on May 25; Olga Bogomolets (8), the Kiev doctor known as the “angel of the Maidan”; Vitaly Klitschko (9), currently mayor of Kiev; and Yury Lutsenko (image below, left with Timoshenko, right with Poroshenko), a politician who has been dividing his time between government posts and prison until he joined Poroshenko’s staff in June.
In polling during the second half of July, KIIS reported that support for Poroshenko was significantly weaker — running on his name alone, the vote for the bloc then called Solidarity was 11.1%. This trailed Klitschko’s bloc, called BLOW, which drew 11.5%. According to KIIS in the last week of July, both Poroshenko and Klitschko were well short of Lyashko’s Radical Party which drew 22.2%, and Timoshenko’s Fatherland at 17.4%.
Lyashko, a 42-year old lawyer from the northwestern region of Chernigov, has directed anti-Russian units in the fighting in Donetsk, and campaigned for the May presidential election on a war-fighting, ethnic cleansing platform. A classified cable from the US Embassy in Kiev, dated November 5, 2007, reveals that Lyashko was a target of US recruitment for “coalition building and needed government policies”. Lyashko came third in the May 25 presidential ballot with 8.3% of the vote.
“At the presidential election,” Paniotto comments, “Lyashko had a very good result. It seems to me the rating of his party really rose a few points since then. It’s hard to say for sure – party lists in the polls change all the time. In general, I think his success was that his aggressive behaviour in war with Russia was supported by the population. For example, Lyashko often went into the zone of the ATO [“Anti-Terrorism Operation”] and was photographed in uniform with the soldiers.”
This Monday (September 1) Bogomolets (image below) accepted Poroshenko’s appointment as his advisor on “humanitarian problems”.
During the Maidan protests of last January and February, Bogomolets was the coordinator of medical aid at the main protest camp in the square. She came out publicly to challenge western media reports that ex-President Victor Yanukovich had been behind the sniper killings on the square. Bogomolets also refused to serve under the acting president Alexander Turchinov as a minister in the post-February 21 government.
On August 26, Bogomolets launched an attack on the performance of the Turchinov-Yatseniuk government, as well as those Ukrainian oligarchs who have financed the war in the east. “It would be desirable to see on a peculiar parade of shame by separate columns – a battalion of oligarchs, a company of media liars, regiments of immoral judges and corruption divisions, in all their ‘beauty’… people should see who hides behind our independence while in Ukraine blood is shed…From the point of view of elementary mathematics, the chances to win against Russian force and arms [are] zero, not even if not only the men, but also all women and children were sent to the front line… But the heaviest victory for Ukraine consists in the fight against internal enemies. This must take place with severity but without blood. Once Ukraine should become independent of oligarchs and corruption – that will be our first step to independence and advantage.”
KIIS POLL OF UKRAINIAN VOTER PREFERENCES IN THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION – SEPTEMBER 1, 2014
For detailed comparison of these new results with the July 23 voter preference poll by KIIS, click here. At that time, according to the KIIS tabulation of voter choice by four regions – west, centre, south, and east – 39.8% of the eastern voters said they wouldn’t vote at all in the parliamentary election. 19.8% of the southern voters also said they wouldn’t vote. In the east and south the only show of voter support in double-digits was for Poroshenko’s bloc. In July he was polling 19.8% in the south; 12.3% in the east.