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Online media skews towards positive assessments of the President's chain of command – IMI study

11.01.2024, 12:40

President Volodymyr Zelensky is the most often mentioned personality in Ukrainian online media, and is mostly mentioned favorably. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov ranks second in terms of media mentions and is never reported on negatively at all. The UAF Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhny ranks third; one in every three mentions of him is negative.

These are the results of a study* of the media presence of public figures, officials, and politicians selected for expert analysis based on monitorings by the IMI.

Mentions in top Ukrainian media (top chart: total number of mentions, bottom chart: positive / neutral / negative). Volodymyr Zelensky, Rustem Umerov, Valeriy Zaluzhny, Vitaiy Klitschko, Kyrylo Budanov, Andriy Yermak, Natalia Humenyuk, Mykhailo Podoliak, Maryana Bezuhla, Petro Poroshenko.

According to the study, the President had over eight times more mentions than the Minister of Defense or the UAF Commander-in-Chief. During the period under study*, top Ukrainian online media posted 805 materials mentioning Volodymyr Zelensky. 59.5% of such materials talk about Zelensky positively. 35.9% of mentions of the President are neutral. Only 4.6% of cases have a negative tone.

Most of the mentions of Volodymyr Zelensky in the top online media during the period under study referred to his contacts with foreign leaders and his work to attract international aid.

As for the Minister of Defense, Rustem Umerov, 109 materials with his name were published during the monitoring period. 70.6% of them were positive, and 29.4% were neutral. No negative mentions of Umerov have been recorded yet.

Most positive mentions of the Minister were related to his initiatives regarding international military cooperation and his visits to the frontline positions of the Defense Forces.

During the monitoring period, the online media outlets under study mentioned the UAF Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhny 90 times. In 41.1% of cases the context was positive, in 32.2% cases – negative, and 26.7% were neutral.

The vast majority of Zaluzhny's positive mentions were about Ukraine's possible counteroffensive in 2024 and the planned strengthening of defenses.

The leading online also posted 87 materials mentioning the Mayor of Kyiv Vitaliy Klychka, 63 materials about the head of the Defense Intelligence Department Kyrylo Budanov, 60 about the head of the President's OfficeAndriy Yermak, 53 about the Southern Defense Forces spokeswoman Natalia Humenyuk, 34 about the President's Office representative Mykhailo Podolyak, 25 about the "Servant of the People" deputy Maryana Bezuhla, and 8 about the leader of the political party "European Solidarity" Petro Poroshenko.

*The monitoring was carried out on December 11–17, 2023 and covered all materials published on 10 websites: Censor.Net, Channel 24, TSN, RBC-Ukraine, NV,, Ukrainian Pravda, "Focus", UNIAN and "Espreso".

The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) is a public media organization that has been operating since 1995. The IMI defends the rights of journalists, analyzes the media field and covers media-related events, fights propaganda and disinformation and has been providing media outlets with safety gear for trips to the combat zone since the start of the Russo–Ukrainian war in 2014.

The IMI carries out Ukraine's only freedom of speech monitoring and keeps a list of high quality and sustainable online media outlets, documents Russia's crimes against the media committed in the course of the war on Ukraine. The IMI has representatives in 20 oblasts of Ukraine and a network of "Mediabaza" hubs to provide journalists with continuous support. The IMI's partners include Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House; the organization is a member of the International Organization for the Protection of Freedom of Expression (IFEX).

By Ostap Hrebinka

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