What Ukrainians searched for in Google
Google search can tell a lot about what people care about and how their priorities change over time. Here are top Google searches for Ukraine in 2014-2018.
The ordinance granting the Ukrainian church autonomy, also known as Tomos, Bitcoin, pensions, and Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the killed leader of Ukrainian separatists, were among top searches of Ukrainians in 2018. These people’s preferences originate from the developments evolving since 2014.
The end of 2013 and 2014 was full of turning points for Ukrainians. The Maidan revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych as well as the illegal seizing of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine by Russia have changed political, social, and economic landscape of the country.
The most popular Google searches detected by Google Trends’ year in search reflect important developments and reveal the issues people were interested in during this period. In 2014, they were looking for the recipe of Molotov cocktail, a bottle-based improvised incendiary weapon, applied during Maidan protests.
The main goal of the protesters was a political reset of the country. They stood up not only for the choice of Europe, but more against corruption and human rights violations. That year the search “what is lustration” was on the first place. This was the goal.
After illegal seizing of Crimea, they searched for the meaning of the “annexation” - word which was widely used to describe this international crime. Russian aggression in the eastern Ukraine brought to the light the issues of federalization and separatism, both condemned by Ukraine and international community.
There were many talks and discussions whether Ukraine should announce martial law. Thus, in 2015 Ukrainians were trying to understand this issue. Martial law has not been established, though, until Russia’s attack against Ukrainian vessels in 2018.
Later on the war in Donbas continued to draw attentions from time to time. In 2016 people were searching information about the release of Nadiia Savchenko by Russia and murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet. Also, they were interested in the murder of Motorola, a leader of separatists supported by the Kremlin. In 2018 they were looking for the killing of another separatists’ leader Oleksandr Zakharchenko as well as about Savchenko's attempt to blow up the parliament building.
In 2017 when the authorities banned Russian social media, like VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, often used by Russian security services, people started to search the ways to bypass these restrictions. They started to search what is VPN. This helped to improve critical perception of information and technical knowledge on how the Internet is functioning. This drew attention to the issues of Internet freedom since there were a few attempts to restrict it - like draft law allowing for a temporary blocking of websites.
Ukrainians followed also other military interventions of Russia like its support of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president. They were searching information on Putin’s involvement into Syrian conflict in 2015. The domestic developments in Russia are also a matter of concern. The same year people were looking for information on the assassination of Boris Nemtsov who was in opposition to Putin.
Being under attack, the interest to international events is high. In 2016, Ukrainians searched information on Donald Trump after he had won the elections. Later on, the U.S. department of justice appointed Robert Mueller to investigate his electoral campaign ties with Russia.
Brexit was another top issue in 2016 after the referendum when UK citizens had voted for leaving the EU.
War and international relations are not the only topics. Social and economic issues still remain high on the agenda. In 2018 Ukrainians wanted to know why payments for child support and pensions had been delayed. In 2017 people were worried about the increase in gas prices while earlier in 2015 they were interested in state subsidies. That was the year of surge in utility prices, and, therefore, the government introduced utility subsidies.
Meanwhile, in 2018 among the top online purchases was bitcoin. People were also searching what is cryptocurrencies. So Ukrainians are trying to be updated on innovations and modern developments in the world.
These findings in general corresponds with issues Ukrainians politicians are exploiting before elections due in 2019. The topics of war, Russian aggression, and social welfare are high in public discourse. Some politicians like Yuliia Tymoshenko are also presenting themselves as progressive talking about blockchain and artificial intelligence. And google search demonstrates that they get the point of what Ukrainians might vote for.
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