Eva K. Bartlett has posted a YouTube video on Oct 1, 2022. It includes some interviews of residents of Donetsk, a city in Eastern Ukraine.

The interviewees express pro-Russian opinions.

Bartlett writes:

Given the predictable Western negation of the referendum to join Russia, and following having done many interviews with people during the referendum, yesterday I did some follow up interviews with Donetsk residents, asking their opinions on joining Russia

Bartlett implies that Donetsk citizens would like to be part of Russia.

Bartlett's Wikipedia page includes claims that she is a shill for Russia, and she may have cherry-picked her interviews, or people may have been pressured to express false views.

Is there good evidence that the people of Donetsk generally would prefer to be part of Russia than Ukraine?

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    I am on mobile now, so I don't want to edit myself, but this seems like a perfectly salvageable question, with an edit. The claim isn't "My friend says...", It is "This widely-seen video purports to show Donetsk, Ukraine citizens want to be part of Russia. Is this widely true of those locals?" Answers (and commenters) should address the claim, not dismiss the claim because of who the reporter is.
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 19, 2022 at 1:30
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    It's almost certainly impossible to get accurate answer while there is active war going on.
    – pinegulf
    Oct 19, 2022 at 7:25
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    Since there is considerable evidence of Russia killing people linked with the current Ukraine government, and of Ukraine killing people accused of collaborating with the Russians, it's hard to see how you'd get an honest answer.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 19, 2022 at 10:29
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    What does "X residents" mean? If there was a single resident wanting that would the statement be true? If they are 100? 1000? 1% of the population? 10%? 50%+1? 80%? 100%? Unfortunately the statement is so vague that you cannot really give a specific binary answer. Also it seems likely that residents have changed significantly in the last months with a lot of people fleeing and also some russians "colonizing" it, so "resident" imply being there today or having lived there for the last, say, 10 years?
    – GACy20
    Oct 19, 2022 at 14:56
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    Bear in mind that there is footage of people being hauled to the "referendum" polls at literal gunpoint by soldiers. Putin has also formally declared "martial law" in the occupied areas, and his soldiers weren't exactly shy of shooting civilians even before that. Being an actual impartial journalist in that region is exceedingly unhealthy. Oct 20, 2022 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


Some of them certainly do. Even when phrased as broadly as "Ukraine should join Russia". These were the results of a poll conducted between 8-18 February 2014. That's about a month before Russian troops evicted the Ukrainian ones from Crimea, i.e. it was among the last polls conducted before there was open territorial conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

6 regions in Ukraine show >15% support, with Crimea showing the most at 41%

If I need to add this: last fall Russia conducted referendums on joining [it] in the territories it recently occupied. Official results were in the 99% ballpark, with turnout claimed above 95% as well.

According to the results released by the Russian Central Election Commission through its sections in the DPR and the LPR, 99.23% (2,116,800 voters) supported the annexation in Donetsk and 98.42% (1,636,302 voters) in Luhansk. The turnouts were 97.51% (2,131,207 voters) and 94.15% (1,662,607 voters), respectively.

Russia even claimed these were monitored by international observers, but that has been disputed because none of the usual organizations officially participated.

As for the present state of affairs, anybody not accepting Russian citizenship by next summer will be considered a foreigner, according to a recent decree (№ 307 of 27.04.2023) signed by Putin, and measures against these have been spelled out (in the same) to include everything up to deportation, so the Q might be be becoming tautological.

б) реализацию мер, исключающих применение административного выдворения за пределы Российской Федерации в форме принудительного выдворения за пределы Российской Федерации, депортации или реадмиссии при принятии решений о привлечении к административной ответственности лиц, названных в пункте 1 настоящего Указа, а до 1 июля 2024 г. в пунктах 2 и 9 настоящего Указа; - лиц, названных

в) с 1 января 2024 г. предоставление органами внутренних дел Российской Федерации на территориях Донецкой Народной Республики, Луганской Народной Республики, Запорожской области и Херсонской области государственных услуг в сфере миграции и реализацию функций этих органов на указанных территориях в полном объеме.

Ostensibly only those [foreigners] who "pose a threat to national security" are subject to such measures (by this decree), but given e.g. that holding a poster saying "no to war" is commonly interpreted as "discrediting the Russian army" by the Russian courts, it's anybody's guess how broadly this recent decree might be interpreted.

  • Where did the screenshot of Russian text come from? It shouldn't be an image at all but quoted text.
    – Laurel
    Apr 29, 2023 at 19:43
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    @Laurel: it's an official decree, and I don't feel like transcribing Russian. I've added a direct link (it was present in the English/RFERL source) Apr 29, 2023 at 19:44
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    "That's about a month before Russian troops evicted the Ukrainian ones from Crimea," you mean "before Russia invaded Crimea".
    – jwenting
    May 1, 2023 at 8:41
  • @jwenting: as I (rather vaguely) recall the history, the Russian troops were snuck in the months before, under various pretextes. March was when they sprung to action and evicted the Ukrainians. And then Crimea was formally annexed (or joined from the Russian perspective). But it's probably incorrect to say it was invaded in March, because the troops were already there. May 1, 2023 at 8:54
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    @jwenting: I'm not trying to whitewash it, it's just that "when Russia invaded Crimea" is somewhat of an indeterminate date relative to the poll date. Whereas when Russian troops evicted the Ukrainian ones is rather a more clear event, timewise. May 2, 2023 at 5:47

To quote @pinegulf,

It's almost certainly impossible to get accurate answer while there is active war going on

Having said that, the closest you can get to an answer is by looking at historical data of accurately recorded political division within the territory.

The most visual would of course be the presidential elections during the last 30 years, especially the final rounds with a pro-western and a pro-eastern candidate where you can clearly see the division. (And that would be pretty much every election over the last 30 years.)

Here's a notable example from 2010, where Yanukovich won, performing best exactly in Eastern Ukraine, followed by Southern Ukraine:

Другий тур 2010 по округах-en.png

This doesn't say much specifically about wanting to join Russia, but it still does say a lot about where the blue-coloured regions are leaning.

(The reliable thing about past election results is there was no gunpoint, and while people can say anything they want on camera, they're anonymous in the booth where they cast their votes, so what they say there is what matters. Of course the elections can be tampered with, but not on that scale to where it gets decisive, I think.)

For those wanting to look into this further, here's the above expanded and looked at through time, going back to the 14th century: https://youtu.be/CJMO8D-Hhn8?t=1h20m05s. It's not in English, but it's at least a safe video, in the sense that there's 0% chance of it being labelled pro-Russian. It refers to not only that map, but many more maps, clearly showing the same pattern.

  • 4
    For fairness, please include a map of the 2019 election results. Thank you.
    – Avery
    Apr 21, 2023 at 9:24
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    It would be nice if we could differentiate better between "leans toward Eastern allegiance" and "wants to be part of Russia." I'm sure there's some correlation, but I'm not sure how strong it is. Apr 21, 2023 at 12:11
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    Since project Novorossya didn't exactly happen like that map suggest or Putin might have hopped in 2014, I'd say that map is at least in part overstating the point. Apr 23, 2023 at 22:40
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    And the results of this 2014 poll on the Q/statement "Ukraine should join Russia" are pretty different from the election results, even if they have the same gradient. (It was conduced a month before Russian troops did their thing in Crimea.) Apr 23, 2023 at 22:58
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    @CristobolPolychronopolis A very important question. "closer ties with Russia" is very different to "wants to be part of Russia". Also important is whether the invasion has altered public opinion. The recent invasion and the 2014 invasion may both have cause major shifts in underlying opinion (though that is going to be hard to measure in areas under Russian control).
    – matt_black
    Apr 24, 2023 at 9:37

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