The Ukrainian style fashion is already disappearing in Ukraine

P. Kerim Friedman kerim.list at
Tue Sep 30 03:45:38 UTC 2003

The translation is a little rough, but this Pravda article seemed like 
it would be of interest. - kerim

Language Problem in Ukraine

09/29/2003 14:16

The Ukrainian style fashion is already disappearing in Ukraine

About 15 years ago, the Ukrainian speech could hardly be heard in 
Ukraine, both in the western and in the eastern part of it. Almost all 
street signs and billboards were written in Russian, the majority of 
schools were teaching children in Russian. The Russian language was 
used even in special Ukrainian schools. Almost all institutes and 
universities were teaching in Russian too.

A lot of changes have taken place since that time. The majority of Kiev 
residents still speak Russian, but all Kiev schools are teaching 
children in the Ukrainian language. There are only eight Russian 
schools in Kiev from the total number of 500. The Russian language is 
gradually disappearing from Ukrainian streets too. There is a fashion 
in Ukraine - to be a Ukrainian. The people who called themselves 
Russians just a short time ago are proud to be Ukrainians now. They 
grow the Cossack moustache  and make a lot of mistakes trying to speak 
the Ukrainian language.

Russian language classes in Ukrainian schools have been changed to 
English classes. Ukrainian children learn just the very basis of 
Russian, but they study English from the first grade. Apparently, 
someone does not like that Ukraine has been too much rusified, so that 
person decided to change Russian classes to English to "englify" 

Nevertheless, fashion comes and goes rather quickly. The present 
Ukrainian style fashion will goo too, and it is not clear what will be 
left in the country afterwards. According to the law of nature, the 
pendulum should swing backwards. The present fashion is gradually 
disappearing already. Moreover, some people show resistance to the 
policy "of strengthening the position of the state language," 
especially in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. Ukrainian 
musician Viktor Pavlik says, they do not play the Ukrainian music on 
radio stations in Ukraine's east. The musician says, he tried to sing 
only in Ukrainian before, but now he "performs in a different way."

The language conflict in Ukraine cannot be described as a fierce 
dispute about the number of state languages in Ukraine. The followers 
of the current language policy are certain, there should be the 
Ukrainian language used in Ukraine. They believe, if someone cannot 
speak Ukrainian, they should simply learn it. The argument is as 
follows: if people come to France or Germany, for example, they do not 
ask why French/German is the state language in this country - they 
simply learn how to speak the language.

The advocates of the second state language in Ukraine are certain that 
50 percent of the Ukrainian population (29.3 percent according to 
official information) consider Russian as their native language. It 
would be absolutely natural to observe those people's right to speak 
their native language. The followers of the second state language in 
Ukraine do not demand a total substitute - they want the two languages 
to be used simultaneously.

Each of the two sides is right in their own way - the argumentation 
makes sense. However, there is a very important question to ask at this 
point: "Does the state exist for its people, or do people exist for 
their state?" What comes first - people or the state? The answer to 
this question is not as obvious as it may seem at first sight. From the 
point of view of history, the countries of the state predominance often 
achieved great progress. The Soviet Union of the Stalin era, for 
example, accomplished a lot in its industrial development. Huge 
DneproGES hydro-electric station built on the Dniepr river became one 
of the highest achievements of the Soviet electric power industry. 
Norilsk and Magnitogorsk mining and smelting enterprises were also 
built in Stalin's USSR and they are still major enterprises of the 
Russian industry. However, such grand projects were executed by 
millions of slaves - Soviet prisoners. Those people were living and 
working under absolutely inhuman conditions, but it was not important 
because everyone in Stalin's system was supposed to exist for the 
successful development of the state.

On the other hand, there is another category of countries - the states 
of the human predominance. Such countries are usually called 
democratic. The constitution, the law and the entire legal system of 
such countries is built for people's needs. The language policy 
complies with such principles too. For instance, there is only six 
percent of Swedes in Finland, but there are two state languages there 
too - the Swedish and the Finnish. Democratic states can develop very 
successfully too. Bourgeois revolutions in Holland, in England and in 
many other European countries allowed them to leave a lot of other 
countries of the world behind.

Ukraine may choose any way of its further development. Everything 
depends on the answer to the question of priority. Ukraine is not 
likely to develop as a totalitarian state in the language policy and as 
a democratic state in all other fields.

Roman Melnikov

Read the original in Russian: (Translated 
by: Dmitry Sudakov )
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