The data from a sociological survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KMIS) reveals that Ukrainians place the highest trust in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), their Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, and volunteers.

According to the survey, trust in the Armed Forces remains unwavering in society, with 96 percent of respondents expressing trust, consistent with December 2022 figures. Additionally, 88 percent of Ukrainians trust the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zaluzhny, with only 4 percent expressing distrust.

President Volodymyr Zelensky maintains substantial trust among Ukrainians. Currently, 62 percent of the population trusts the president, while 18 percent do not. In December 2022, 84 percent trusted the president, and 5 percent did not. The balance of trust-distrust for the president, which was +80 percent in December 2022, is now +42 percent.

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“While there is a significant decrease, it remains unequivocally positive with a significant preponderance of those who trust the president compared to those who do not,” point out sociologists.

It is crucial to understand how trust in the president and the Armed Force Commander-in-Chief “intersect.” Most Ukrainians (59 percent) trust both Zelensky and Zaluzhny simultaneously. The share of Ukrainians with polarized views is small: only 14 percent trust Zaluzhny but not the president, and only 1 percent trust the president but not Zaluzhny.

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Volunteers in Ukraine enjoy a high level of trust, with 84 percent expressing trust and only 3 percent expressing distrust (similar to December 2022 figures).

Trust in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has slightly decreased, with the majority of Ukrainians (58 percent) still expressing trust, while 16 percent do not (compared to 63 percent trust and 9 percent distrust in December 2022).

Authorities Losing Significant Confidence

Over the past year, trust in the Ukrainian parliament Verkhovna Rada has decreased from 35 percent to 15 percent, with distrust increasing from 34 percent to 61 percent. Trust in the government has fallen from 52 percent to 26 percent, and distrust has risen from 19 percent to 44 percent.

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Confidence in the police has notably decreased from 58 percent in December 2022 to 41 percent now, with distrust increasing from 14 percent to 29 percent.

Trust in courts and prosecutors is critically low, with a significant deterioration compared to last year. Only 12 percent of respondents trust the courts, and only 9 percent trust prosecutors. Conversely, 61 percent and 64 percent express distrust in courts and prosecutors, respectively.

In December 2022, courts were trusted by 25 percent, prosecutors by 21 percent, with significantly fewer expressing distrust (half of the current percentages).

The Media and the Church: A Decline in Ukrainian Trust

Ukrainian mass media has experienced a significant loss of trust, with indicators reverting to December 2021 levels. Over the past year, those who trust Ukrainian media have decreased from 57 percent to 29 percent, while the percentage of Ukrainians who do not trust them has increased from 14 percent to 40 percent.

The Church is steadily losing the trust of the public. Between December 2021 and December 2022, trust in the Church decreased from 51 percent to 44 percent. Between December 2022 and December 2023, this declined further from 44 percent to 38 percent.

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What does KMIS say?

Anton Hrushetsky, deputy director of KMIS, explained that the increase in criticism and the decrease in trust in the authorities are likely the result of unrealistic expectations for the year and claims about the efficiency and transparency of activities.

“It is important that criticism does not turn into demands for elections (currently, the absolute majority is against any elections), and that the majority of Ukrainians retain trust in the president,” he emphasized.

Hrushetsky notes that Zelensky maintains high legitimacy, crucial for “maintaining the manageability of state institutions in this difficult period and for conducting difficult negotiations with Western partners.”

According to Hrushetsky, a significant result is that 59 percent of Ukrainians trust both the president and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zaluzhny, simultaneously.

He highlighted that Ukrainians demand unity, and actions by individual representatives of the authorities attempting to discredit the AFU’s Commander-in-Chief are met with sharp rejection in society.

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“Ukrainians do not believe in accusations that may be leveled against Zaluzhny. Moreover, such accusations may boomerang negatively affect the government itself,” Hrushetsky said.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9, 2023, among 1,031 respondents in all regions, excluding the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas, as well as areas without Ukrainian mobile communication at the time of the survey.

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