The menu language. Here's how KIIS, respectable sociologists, were played in a Russian information operation
"40% of Ukrainians want to see menus in restaurants in two languages". Such headlines flooded the Ukrainian media space on June 29-30.
It would seem: why would 40% of Ukrainians suddenly want bilingual menus, if almost all Ukrainians understand both Ukrainian and Russian language? Do these 40% really object to the menu being, say, in three or five languages? Or, let's say, the owners themselves would determine the language of their menus?
And you are probably wondering how many respondents support the model provided by the law on language, which should start working from January 16, 2021: the menu in Ukrainian is mandatory; at the discretion of the owners there can also be a menu in any other language.
The answer is: none. Because the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) which conducted the survey, surprisingly, did not provide such an option in their questionnaire. And in general, too: the wording of the question and the list of answer options are a classic example of manipulation when respondents are pushed to the answers desired by clients, and the options distort the real state of affairs.
Highlighted sections read: "Lately, there have been many discussions... Ukrainian and/or Russian... (besides such languages as English etc)".
This was pointed out by the author of Texty.org.ua" Taras Shamaida, whose post on Facebook is given in below full. Commenting on the post, KIIS Director Volodymyr Paniotto acknowledged that the original version of the question was adjusted at the request of clients who wished to remain anonymous, while Serhiy Leshchenko, who is close to the current government, believes that Medvedchuk's pro-Moscow OPFL party is the client.
Here's Shamaida's post:
"Dear KIIS! You are professionals and you can't help but realize the multi-level manipulation of your menu language question.
First, you make a lead-in about the supposedly many discussions about whether menus should be in "Ukrainian or Russian" (sic!). Secondly, for some reason and artificially, in the same lead-in, all other languages except Ukrainian and Russian are out of parentheses, which imposes on the respondent the Moscow discourse on the Ukrainian-Russian language dichotomy in Ukraine.
At the same time, surprisingly, the list of options does not include the one exactly which is provided by law and which, in the end, follows from common sense:
"In Ukrainian - mandatory; in Russian, English, or any other language - at the discretion of the owners of the business."
I think you understand perfectly well that this option would have been chosen by the majority of respondents, especially if you do not make manipulative lead-ins.
But you ask questions the way you do, and then the results, under even more manipulative headlines, are used in attempts to artificially reanimate the "Russian language problem" in Ukraine.
Could you please help me understand why you're doing this? Or, if such wording is a requirement of clients, then who are these clients?”
[end of Shamayda's post]
if such wording is a requirement of clients, then who are these clients?
We contacted the director of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology Volodymyr Paniotto:
"The questions about Poroshenko, the attitude to the IMF, the medical reform, and the Russian language in the menus are all questions of the client. I believe that they are formulated correctly, given what exactly the client wanted to find out. In the case of the language question, the topic was exactly the menu. We have adjusted the wording suggested by the client. Yes, I understand that such a question may not be timely now, but sociologists do not decide how appropriate to ask it - and there is a risk of using sociologists for a specific political purpose. But we, deliberately, do not choose customers, so as to avoid subjectivity and selectivity in our approaches. Much depends on how clients use the resulting survey results later. Sometimes they do not publish all the numbers, but only those that they like. For example, we were once commissioned to study attitudes toward Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. But the client disclosed data only on one of the politicians; the situation looked very sad but, on the other hand, it was even worse in fact."
The media simply could not help but publish the news about the attitude of 40% to the language of the menu. It met all the criteria: it was clickable, it caused discussion and attracted attention, and the news came from an authoritative source.
In fact, the inclusion of such a question in a poll and its subsequent publication is part of an information campaign launched by Russian influence agent Anatoly Shariy. It will be recalled that he stated that the McDonald's restaurant chain allegedly removed the Russian-language version of the menu. In fact, it was never there (officially).
That is, the problem is made up and has never bothered anyone, so asking a question that begins with the words "There have been many discussions lately ..." is a direct manipulation. Because there were no discussions. Also, this information campaign coincides with the efforts of the pro-Russian part of the "Servants of the People" in the Rada to amend the law on language.
Paniotto's explanations under Shamayda's post are also informative:
Highlighted: "Initial wording... There's a problem that needs to be solved..."
Highlighted: "That's exactly what we proposed. The client (who wishes to remain unnamed)..."
Highlighted: "Mandatory Ukrainian, other [language] at the owner's discretion does not provide information of how many people would like the owner to choose Russian as the second language."
This article in Ukrainian (Ця стаття українською)