Ukraine has no language problem - Yushchenko
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Tue Oct 30 14:11:13 UTC 2007
Ukraine has no language problem - Yushchenko
KIEV, October 29 (Itar-Tass) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
has opposed speculations surrounding the language issue. "There is no
language problem between average citizens. It is hard to find a
language policy model more tolerant than the one Ukraine is applying
to any national minority," he said.
Ukraine has never oppressed other languages, first and foremost,
Russian, Yushchenko said.
"Half of the Ukrainian budget allocations for languages fall on
Russian. Tell me which other state is assigning so much budgetary
funds for the language policy. I'd rather not call them a national
minority, but call them people who respect the Russian language," he
said. "This is an absolutely transparent policy, which guarantees
every resident of Ukraine the right to free communication in the
language of his or her choice."
"Ukraine will respect the language of any national minority. There
must be no language speculations, although I, as the president, will
have to listen to such claims and make corrections," he said. "One
should be ashamed to live in Ukraine and fail to understand the
Ukrainian language, and one should be ashamed not to speak several
languages in a few years."
Meanwhile, the Party of Regions led by Viktor Yanukovich reminded the
authorities on Friday that it is working on a referendum concerning
the Russian language status, Ukraine's neutrality, and municipal
elections. Five million people signed up in support of the referendum,
and their signatures were presented to the Central Elections
Commission on September, three days before the early parliament
elections, the party said.
"The politicians must rely on the opinion of people," said the Party
of Regions, which defines itself as "a responsible political force
supported by millions of citizens." "We will be protecting their
interests in every lawful way possible," the party said. Party
representatives said recently that they might abandon the referendum
idea if the nation would benefit from that.
"The new status of the Russian language is a demand of our voters, and
we will not let them down. We won't bargain our principles," said
party co-leader Raisa Bogatyryova.
In the words of Director of the Sociology Institute of the Ukrainian
Academy of Sciences Nikolai Shulga, the number of ethnic Ukrainians,
who say that Russian is their native tongue, has grown by one million
people to 5.5 million.
In his opinion, that is because of the Ukrainian urbanization – the
majority of Ukrainian cities speak Russian. " The Russian community is
still here. They are trying to hush it down or marginalize, but it
exists and even grows," he said.
The Ukrainian constitution gives the state status to the Ukrainian
language. It also guarantees the free development, use and protection
of Russian and other languages of national minorities in Ukraine. Yet
the constitution does not have a notion of the official language.
It takes no less than 300 votes in the Verkhovna Rada to amend the
constitution. Over half of Ukrainian citizens insist that the status
of the Russian language in Ukraine must be changed, the Social
Monitoring Center said in comments on a July poll. Nearly 27% of 2,014
respondents throughout Ukraine, including the Crimea, Kiev and
Sevastopol, supported the state status of the Russian language
alongside Ukrainian. Another 25% said that the Russian language must
be legalized in areas of compact residence of Russians.
One-third of the respondents said that nothing should change, and
about 12% said that the Russian language should be banned in official
communication. The Ukrainian constitution and laws attribute the state
status only to the Ukrainian language, while Russian, which is the
native tongue of over half of Ukraine's residence, is defined as the
language of a national minority.
The Russian language was legalized by local councils in the Donetsk,
Zaporozhye, Lugansk, Nikolayev and Kharkov regions, as well as in
Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoi Rog, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Sevastopol,
Kharkov, Yalta and some other cities in the southern and eastern areas
of Ukraine in May-June 2006. Local prosecutors and courts have been
challenging these decisions since then.
Nearly half of Ukrainian citizens think that the status of the Russian
language in Ukraine must be changed, says a report entitled "Socio-
Political Preferences and Electoral Feelings of Ukrainian Citizens."
The Ukrainian Sociological Service based the report on results of a
poll, which was held nationwide on July 16-25. Nearly 24% of 26,000
respondents said that the Russian language should acquire the state
status in Ukraine, while another 23% said that the Russian language
should receive the official status in areas compactly populated by
Nearly 46% of the respondents bluntly said no to any changes in the
language policy of the Ukrainian state.
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