[lg policy] Ukraine: Yanukovich vows to make Russian official language if elected president

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 3 15:01:27 UTC 2009

Yanukovich vows to make Russian official language if elected president

02.09.2009, 20.27

 KIEV, September 2 (Itar-Tass) -- Party of Regions leader Viktor
Yanukovich said he would make Russian an official language in Ukraine
if elected president. He promised to “do everything possible to make
Russian a second official language” in the country.  Speaking in a
live broadcast of the Odessa regional television company on Wednesday,
Yanukovich responded to Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s recent
statement in Lvov where she said that Russian should not be a second
official language in Ukraine.
Given the audience at the world congress of Ukrainian in Lvov and the
coming elections, Timoshenko said, “As long as our team is in power
and as long as truly patriotic Ukrainians are in power, and I think
this will not change, we will never allow anyone even to raise the
question of another official language” other than Ukrainian.

“I will do everything I can to make Russian a second official
language,” Yanukovich said.  He stressed that it would take 226 votes
for a law making Russian an official language to be adopted.  The next
presidential election is scheduled for January 17, 2010.  As the
presidential election nears, the preservation of the Russian language
and its status as a second official language become increasingly
relevant political issue in Ukraine.  Regional mass media have been
constantly complaining that the Russian language is being more and
more forced out of the information environment in Ukraine.

Electronic mass media - television and the radio -- are hit hardest.
Pursuant to a new version of the Ukrainian Law "On Television and
Radio Broadcasting", broadcasts in Ukrainian should be at least 75
percent, compared to 50 percent before. "Violators" will not be
granted licenses, and regional peculiarities are not taken into
account. The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting has
obligated the Sevastopol television and radio company to increase its
broadcasts in Ukraine to at least 75 percent of airtime form January
1, 2009, even though 93 percent of people living in the city speak
Russian. However, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasily Kirilich
believes that the problem of the Russian language in the country is

"I do not see any problems with the Russian language in Ukraine," he
said. In Ukraine "every citizen speaks the language which he considers
native or which he more comfortable for communication", Kirilich said.
"Where else in the world is there a parliament where deputies speak a
foreign [Russian] language, except for the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada?"
he said. He stressed the need "to speak about what Ukraine and Russia
have in common rather then focus on what they have in difference".
"Our countries have very many common and generally positive things,"
Kirilich said. Ukraine does not have to account to anyone for its
language policy, Culture and Tourism Minister Vasily Vovkun said.

"Our actions should be principled, consistent and offensive because
they are based on the Constitution of Ukraine and national interests,"
Vovkun said. The minister made it clear that "the development of an
integral national language and cultural space based on the promotion
of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life, on the
presence of the national cultural product in proper volumes on the
domestic market has been determined by the government as an important
strategic objective. But the implementation of this strategic task
envisages, among other things, the adoption and practical realisation
of Ukraine's Language Policy Concept, the new Ukrainian law 'On the
Official Language', and amendments to the Law on the Ratification of
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages."


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