[lg policy] Ukraine: The adoption of the Law on Language Policy: expert opinion

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 5 15:14:32 UTC 2012

The adoption of the Law on Language Policy: expert opinion

02 July 12

According to the Gorshenin Institute expert Volodymyr Zastava, with its
decision to provide Russian with the status of a regional language in some
regions of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada will only formalize the existing
state of things in some eastern and especially southern regions, where most
documents, both in business and in the state sectors, are run in Russian.

"Today, there is one state language in Ukraine: Ukrainian. Talks about a
possible granting Russian the state language status are simply political
speculations, as this requires amendments to the Ukrainian constitution,
which must be backed by at least 300 lawmakers, which is impossible under
the current situation.

Partly, the developments related to the language issue should be considered
from the perspective of the Ukraine-EU-Russia relations. Half a year ago,
experts of the Gorshenin Institute made an assumption that Ukraine’s
foreign policy is replaced with tactical manoeuvring between Moscow and
Brussels. The tactics replaced the strategy. It is worth recalling that the
issue of the Russian language status was raised by the MPs of the Party of
Regions on the eve of the Ukrainian prime-minister’s visit to Moscow. The
Ukrainian delegation assured that the negotiations on changing the Russian
gas price started, which was then denied by the Gazprom representatives. It
is not a secret that Russian president Putin repeatedly spoke about the
discrimination of Russian language in Ukraine.

Today, the language issue is not relevant for the majority of Ukrainian
citizens. According to the opinion polls by most Ukrainian sociological
services, the language issue is not part of the top 15 main challenges
listed by Ukrainians. However, the artificial injection of this issue into
the national agenda has its own electoral goals. The Ukrainian opposition
yielded to the provocation by the authorities, spreading the hysteria about
the Russian language status, and followed the agenda imposed on them. As
the result, the voters of the southern and eastern Ukraine were again shown
the image of the opposition politicians as “nationalists” who are not able
to offer a solution to challenging issues, which include first of all the
employment and growth of incomes.

The Ukrainian opposition also got certain political dividends from the
language issue. The opposition continued “cementing” its electorate in the
west of the country, losing at the same time voters in southern and eastern
regions, which is not very positive, taking into account the fact, that in
mathematical terms, the victory in Ukrainian elections belongs to the south
and eastern regions”, Zastava said.
 © Gorshenin Institute
Member of Gorshenin Group

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