People in eastern Ukraine tired of protracted conflict, support reintegration of non-government controlled territories: Results of SCORE study

July 7, 2020

Residents of government-controlled and non-government controlled 
territories have many shared needs and a similar vision of conflict resolution

Photo credit: Anastasia Vlasova / UNDP Ukraine

Kyiv, 7 July 2020 – The report “Toward a common future: Voices from both sides of the ‘contact line”” based on the of Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index (SCORE) for 2019 in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which covers the territories controlled and not controlled by the government of Ukraine, was presented online today.

The study was conducted with funds provided by USAID to support the Democratic Governance in the East program (DG East), implemented by the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD), and in partnership with the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP).

Head of the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme Victor Munteanu stressed that SCORE allows the needs of vulnerable groups and governance challenges to be identified and prioritised when working with communities in eastern Ukraine.

“This way we can better adjust approaches and allocate resources, targeting the most effective ways to boost social cohesion and build a long-lasting peace,” Munteanu said.

The SCORE 2019 findings demonstrate that residents of both the GCAs and NGCAs have many needs in common, in particular with regard to service provision and human security.

Weary of the protracted conflict, a large share of the respondents on both sides of the contact line support the unconditional political reintegration of the NGCAs. However, many are also open to a compromise solution, such as special status, although different respondents have different views as to the purpose of special status.

The coordinator of the SeeD’s programmes in Ukraine, Oksana Lemishka, said that one of the key objectives of the study was to fill gaps in information about territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

“We know that gathering information in areas not controlled by the government is difficult. However, the more we try to understand the conditions and opinions of the population of these territories, the better we will be able to understand how to move forward,” said Lemishka.

Key trends in 2019

Residents in both the GCAs and NGCAs do not feel safe, the latter being more vulnerable.

Residents in both the GCAs and NGCAs do not feel safe, the latter being more vulnerable. Levels of personal, political and economic security are low on both sides of the line of contact. Respondents in both the GCAs and NGCAs do not feel safe on the streets: 60 percent and 76 percent respectively, while about 51 percent of respondents in the GCAs and 64 percent in the NGCAs say they fear negative repercussions if they express their political opinions freely.

There is a difference in perceptions of personal insecurity between residents of the NGCAs and GCAs. Compared to their GCA counterparts, NGCA residents do not feel safe walking lone on the street at night and, in general, do not feel safe from violence in their daily lives. GCA residents express a much lower level of confidence in the ability of the police to protect them.

In terms of economic security, 13 percent of households in the GCAs and 20 percent in the NGCAs lack money to buy food.

Commuters from the NGCAs are more supportive of reintegration than those who do not cross the contact line.

Commuters across the contact line are more likely to have a positive disposition toward the Ukrainian authorities and to identify as citizens of Ukraine. Crossing the contact line remains a significant channel for maintaining people-to-people contacts and for delivering services to and sharing information with those living in the NGCAs.

Ukrainian identity prevails in both the GCAs and NGCAs.

When asked about their primary identity, nearly 90 percent of GCA residents self-identify as Ukrainian or as a citizen of Ukraine, while NGCA residents are equally divided between those who self-identify as Ukrainian or as a citizen of Ukraine and those who self-identify as Russian or a citizen of so-called “DPR”/”LPR.”

Commuters also express significantly higher levels of self-identification as citizens of Ukraine than those who never visit the GCAs and, unsurprisingly, report higher levels of support for the reintegration of the NGCAs.

Preferences for media differ among GCA and NGCA residents, and how one’s choice of media can have divisive effects.

Russian media is the most readily available and popular source of information and entertainment in the NGCAs, but is linked to divisive narratives and behaviours, including fuelling support for separatism. In the GCAs, Ukrainian channels have no impact on status-related issues (e.g. on support for reintegration).

On both sides of the contact line, TV is the main preferred media, outstripping radio and newspapers. Online sources are a close second, with half of respondents consuming it once a week or more. The most trusted source of information, however, remains friends and family.

Common factors that predict support for reintegration in the GCAs and NGCAs include the belief that Ukrainian authorities care, and the ability to discern divisive narratives. Human security is equally important: political security (in the GCAs) and personal security (in the NGCAs).

Support for reintegration in the GCAs is additionally driven by a sense of agency, belief in effective reform implementation, locality satisfaction and one’s sense of belonging to Ukraine. Belief that politically opposed groups are ready to listen strengthens support for reintegration in the NGCAs.


The aim of the SCORE initiative is to assist national and international stakeholders in their peacebuilding efforts. It provides a solid evidence base for developing policies and programs that strengthen national unity and social cohesion, particularly in eastern Ukraine, as well as for monitoring progress of their implementation.

SCORE is an analytical tool implemented on an annual basis and designed to improve the understanding of societal dynamics in Ukraine. SCORE findings presented in this report are based on 9,054 face-to-face interviews conducted in September–November 2019, including 619 in the non-government-controlled areas. The quantitative data was further enriched by validation consultations with both stakeholders and citizens.


The Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD) works with international development organizations, governments and civil society leaders to design and implement people-centred and evidence-based strategies for promoting peaceful, inclusive and resilient societies.

USAID’s DG East programme is a five-year activity to improve trust and confidence between citizens and government in eastern Ukraine, building opportunities for the region to lead Ukraine’s democratic transformation. 

The United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP) is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The programme is supported by twelve international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Media enquiries

Maksym Kytsiuk, Communications Associate, the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme,, +380 63 576 1839