Negative myths. What do European citizens say about Ukraine?

Negative myths. What do European citizens say about Ukraine?

The European Union supported Ukraine, recognizing its territorial integrity and supporting its European integration course. On February 28, Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed an application for Ukraine's EU membership. Despite this, there are many myths among Europeans planted by the Russian propaganda media.

Svidomi spoke with 50 residents of 12 different EU countries and asked what they were talking about and what they thought about Ukraine.

Almost all respondents agreed that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in their countries, the vision of Ukraine has changed. Moreover, the foreigners admitted that some facts were unexpected for them. The problem is the lack of information about Ukraine, except for the occupation of Crimea and the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Nevertheless, messages promoted by Russia are spreading in the European information space. According to respondents, a small percentage of Europeans will believe in neo-Nazis at this point; however, there are several ideas that part of the population will continue to believe in. The European community believes in manipulations about Ukraine's state system, history, economic situation, and language the most. Swipe to read or go to to learn more.

Opinion #1

Ukraine is a corrupt country. The problems with corruption are bigger than in Russia.

In many EU countries, there are prejudices about Ukraine's corruption. On the one hand, such thoughts are not unfounded. Ukraine received 32 points out of a possible 100 in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Over the year, the indicator dropped by one point, and now Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries.

However, Ukraine is ranked higher than Russia, which is ranked 136th. At the same time, Ukraine has launched a program of anti-corruption activities. First of all, the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office was elected, which was a key demand of the allies. On July 20, Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law "On the Principles of State Anti-Corruption Policy for 2021-2025." It is expected that the approval of the anti-corruption strategy and its subsequent proper implementation will allow for the reduction of the corruption level.

Opinion #2

Ukraine is not a European country.

A significant number of Europeans do not perceive Ukraine as a part of the "European family." For the most part, this is because the educational programs of foreign schools and universities rarely pay attention to Ukrainians and other forms of statehood that Ukraine had in the past. The vision of Ukraine as a post-Soviet state hinders the European image. The peculiar scale of state-building, legal, and scientific tradition of European countries also has an influence. The EU is not sufficiently aware of Ukraine's achievements in these areas. In addition, there are few results of Ukrainian cultural or economic activity on the European market. An average European is unlikely to name Ukrainian products or the cultural achievements of Ukrainians.

Opinion #3

Almost everyone in Ukraine speaks Russian.

This idea is a consequence of Russia's imperialist influence. The opinion about the Russian language in Ukraine is also often promoted by nonrepresentational statistics, infographics, and distorted facts presented by the media. At the same time, there is a significant part of Ukrainians who communicate in Russian and had to leave the country because of the war. Several respondents noted that they had personally spoken with many Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

According to a survey by the sociological group "Rating," in March 2022, 76% of Ukrainians considered Ukrainian to be their native language.

Opinion #4

Residents of eastern Ukraine have always wanted to be part of Russia.

Elon Musk recently published old voting statistics for the "Party of Regions" from 2012, according to which a large part of Ukrainians in the east "support Russia." One of the most common narratives is the idea that a part of the population in the East is sympathetic to Russia. Among Europeans, you can hear questions like: "Of course, I do not recognize the "referendums," but don't most people have a favorable attitude towards Russia?"

According to a survey by the sociological group "Rating," 94% of the surveyed Ukrainians identify themselves as Ukrainians, and almost 90% of the surveyed consider a ceasefire before the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine to be unacceptable.

Opinion #5

Ukraine has not reacted to other conflicts. Neither should we.

Some respondents spoke about the narrative that their country should not support Ukraine because it has not condemned certain European conflicts. Thus, the media in some countries are reflecting on their own traumas experienced in the historical past. For example, the Greek media "Knews" condemns Zelenskyy for not mentioning the Turkish invasion of Cyprus during his speech before the parliament. Such ideas do not so much discredit Ukraine as increase prejudice and wariness about the country.

Opinion #6

Ukraine is an underdeveloped country.

European media spread the idea that Ukraine is an underdeveloped and economically backward country. Partly in the European space, this narrative was interrupted by the idea of "harmful Soviet influence", however, on the contrary, there was another opinion. In particular, you can hear from the Europeans: "Say, we could blame the USSR, but not today. It's been 30 years. Ukraine, Slovenia, and Croatia started from the same point. In the beginning, Croatia had to go through a war. But the Croats succeeded, Ukraine did not."

As of 2018, Ukraine ranked 58th in terms of GDP. Europeans hear little about Ukraine's economic success and creative and ambitious startups or projects, which creates a picture that is not comparable to reality.

Opinion #7

The Russian invasion is justified by the defense of its interests.

This opinion is one of the most common in African and Asian countries. Russia outlined the idea of war against NATO and the USA, which allegedly wanted to turn Ukraine into a "military hub filled with weapons."

Some Europeans suggest that the USA and NATO are to blame for what happened and that they should "leave Ukraine in Russia's sphere of influence." As an argument, they mention how NATO and the USA allegedly misled the Kremlin about the expansion of the Alliance.

Opinion #8

Ukraine is not a tolerant state.

Europeans criticize the governments of Hungary and Poland for their attitude towards minorities and women's rights. There is a similar vision among certain circles regarding Ukraine. In the EU, little is known about Ukrainian movements for rights and freedoms and about several organizations that protect the rights of vulnerable population groups. In addition, Ukraine ratified the Istanbul Convention, which is an important step in the fight against violence and discrimination.

Opinion #9

In Ukraine, men are illegally and forcibly mobilized.

With the beginning of mobilization in Russia, Russian propaganda is particularly active in promoting the idea that the problem with forced mobilization is in Ukraine. In particular, some respondents said they had encountered narratives that Ukraine was illegally persecuting men and forcibly mobilizing them.

Instead, many volunteer battalions in Ukraine are formed solely based on the desire to join the army.

On March 3, 2022, Verkhovna Rada approved Volodymyr Zelenskyy's decree on general mobilization, which initiated the draft of the first round of reservists. On March 15, the mobilization of conscripts of the second round began. On August 15, Verkhovna Rada voted to extend the general mobilization in Ukraine until November 21. At the same time, on October 1, the President of Ukraine canceled the autumn draft to the Armed Forces.