Ishchenko: “Ukrainians Do Not Care About Ideology: They Think About How to Survive”

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The opinion of Ukrainians is divided in regards to the decommunization that is ongoing in the country at full speed. 40% of respondents condemn the refusal of all things Soviet. This was revealed by sociologists. A third approves of the policy of the authorities, and a quarter of the population is not interested in it at all.

Decommunization is supported most ardently in the west of the country: 44%, and the least of all in the South and the East — 27.7% and 25% respectively. And Ukrainians worried about ideology more often than not are over 40 years of age. The majority of opponents of decommunization among the people are over 60 years of age. Half of them condemn the actions of the authorities.

And the youth are neither pro nor against – here are often the supporters of a neutral position. They answered the questions of sociologists with: I don’t care. Is this fatigue from the thoughtless actions of the authorities or is it indifference to the country’s history?

Meanwhile in Ukraine the names of historical heroes — within the framework of decommunization and disposal of all things Soviet — continue to be buried into oblivion. This time the hands of the Kiev authorities reached Marshal Zhukov. The commission on renaming suggested to rename a street in honor of him into the street of the Kuban Ukraine. Such a name was thought up by nationalists from the Azov corpus.

As “” earlier reported, next year’s Victory Day has already been banned. Kiev wants emphasis to be placed on May 8th and to celebrate the day of memory and reconciliation, like in Europe. Thus, Ukraine wants to come nearer to the treasured European Union and to move away from Russia even more.

The President of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko commented to “” on the results of the poll.

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What do you think about the data obtained by sociologists?

“The figures don’t testify to the fact that the people adhere to habitual life. A third who fully support compared to 40% who don’t support — this is almost the same amount. And if there are also those who don’t completely support, but nevertheless support, their quantity can reach 50%. These are figures, characteristic for the Ukrainian society, and on any question. Whether its language, politics, who to vote for — Yushchenko, Yanukovych or Tymoshenko, whether it’s on the issue of decommunization, the attitude to the Soviet past, to the Great Patriotic War…

The paradox consists in the fact that even people who in Kiev will come out with St. George’s Ribbons, even if in their majority they consider the war as the Great Patriotic War, it’s still not all of them. There are people in a minimal quantity who consider that it is World War II [and not the Great Patriotic War – ed] because Ukraine fought in it generally nearly independently. Society is very seriously split, and in this situation the marker “friend — foe” works.

If you are a Ukrainian patriot, you must obligatorily support that the Ukrainian language is the state one, that Victory is celebrated on May 8th, and that it was not a Victory, but a Day of memory and reconciliation. You are a believer in the sect of Holodomor, and are absolutely sure that twice as many people died Holodomor than lived on this territory. And if you are an adequate person, not affected by the madness of Ukrainisation, then you have diametrically opposite views. And this poll shows the same thing. It shows a society split in half.”

The Ukrainian youth mostly adheres to neutral positions. What is your opinion on this?

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“Why should the youth seriously differ? The youth didn’t live in conditions of Soviet power, so for them decommunization is something abstract, it is the same as now asking Americans about what they think about the reconstruction of the South that took place after the civil war and was like the denazification of Germany. Americans also will say to you that they spit on it. Since then other generations grew, and many of them, even not many, but 99%, don’t know what reconstruction is. Now the youth that grew up, who absolutely spit on the communistic past, they didn’t see it.”

Nevertheless, we don’t observe unconditional support for the process of decommunization to Ukraine …

“There won’t be unconditional support for one simple reason. You grew up in some city, you walked past some monuments, you got used to them like a landscape element. You even don’t contemplate for whom and why these monuments were erased; it is simply your little Motherland, like birches near the gate. And suddenly someone arrives and starts to break them. You say: and why, they don’t disturb anybody. Moreover: if nobody started to break them, then nobody would know who these people. That’s why there isn’t any unambiguous support: why in my city do they turn beautiful monuments into a heap of crushed stone?”

And what developments of the situation in the near future will there be? Can the pendulum swing to this or that side — “I support” or “I don’t support”?

“I think that we live during an era when the last sociological polls in Ukraine take place, because Ukrainian society practically stopped existing at the same time when Ukraine stopped existing as a State. It is already being transformed into an automated crowd. And this crowd starts dealing not with problems of ideology, but survival problems. Of course, there were, is, and will be, and will remain, as always in any disintegrating society, some ideologized impregnations: there will be both Banderists and anti-fascists. It will be such a vanishingly small quantity that can’t influence the manner of behavior of society that these ideological polls will lose its meaning.

In reality, it is the problem of ordinary survival that will start to come to the forefront for the people now. This is evidenced by the fact that however they behave towards anything, Ukrainians vote with their ‘feet’: in three years 10 million people left the country. This is the best indicator, there isn’t any need for opinion polls. Because at such a tempo in another nine years there will be any people at all in Ukraine: all of them will have left. I understand that not everyone will ever leave, but a quarter of the population in three years left the country. Every year the situation worsens.”

It’s impossible to separate politics from economy …

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“Certainly. If you have no bread, you won’t vote in elections, you will go to search for food, you won’t contemplate what system is better — monarchy, republic, democracy, oligarchy. It is Aristotle who contemplated it and was served by slaves, while hunters and collectors who were simply engaged in their own nourishment all day long — they in general didn’t think of such questions at all. They didn’t even know about the State because it didn’t exist back then. And it is in this condition of hunters and collectors that society in Ukraine now turns into.”

It is sad, we hope that common sense will triumph.

“Common sense always triumphs, just sometimes it triumphs at the moment when there are no more left.”

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