“They play on people’s fears of Ukraine in Crimea” – Iryna Bekeshkina

Ukrainian sociologist and regional director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation Iryna Bekeshkina spoke on the conduction of sociological research in the annexed Crimea, on whether people tell the truth in the polls and what do Ukrainians want.

On the question whether it is possible to conduct surveys on Ukraine’s  temporarily uncontrolled territories, the sociologist said that one should not ask sharp questions like “Do you want to be with Ukraine or Russia?” The  respondent “can have serious trouble,” Bekeshkina says, “I believe that Crimean  people answer sincerely, but many refuse, distorting true public opinion as the result,” she says.

According to Bekeshkina, the support for the vector of development in the Russian direction  has currently naturally disappeared, which is demonstrated  by the polls. “It seems that those who previously supported the idea of ​​joining the Customs Union are now more likely to respond: ‘It’s hard to say’ or ‘There is no need to integrate anywhere.’ The overall trend has changed dramatically as with the issue of the support for NATO. In 2013, 0.3% of respondents in Donetsk and Luhansk regions supported joining NATO. This is 1 person out of 278. Today, according to the polls, 30% of supporters of such a decision are in the Donetsk region and 10% – in the Luhansk region. In addition, earlier in the South-East regions of the country regional self-identification predominated. Now, most of them consider themselves citizens of Ukraine,” says Bekeshkina.

As to the possibility of such turn in Crimea, Iryna Bekeshkina noted that occupying the authorities in Crimea play on people’s fears of Ukraine and on that the intoxication with Russian propaganda is very strong. “First of all, the imposed fears will disappear. I remember that about one third of the people in the liberated territories of the Donbass were afraid of Pravyi Sector (Right Sector – Ukrainian nationalist political party – UATV), but nothing really happened. Political fears disappeared and their place was taken by ordinary economic ones. Everything can go back to normal,” Iryna Bekeshkina says.

Source: RFE/RL. Crimea.Realities