[lg policy] Ukraine: Bill No. 9073: individual responsibility

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 8 16:00:50 UTC 2012

Bill No. 9073: individual responsibility
By Maria TOMAK, The Day

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the bill “On Principles of the
Official Language Policy” (No. 9073) in its first reading. This
notorious draft law was drawn up by members of parliament Serhii
Kivalov and Vadym Kolesnichenko.

However, they were not the only people working on it. The official
website of the Verkhovna Rada has the names of other authors listed:
director general of the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine Arkadii
Monastyrsky, the Honored Head of the Democratic Union of Hungarians of
Ukraine Mykhailo Tovt, executive secretary of the Interregional Union
Romanian Community of Ukraine Aurica Bojescu, chairman of Ukraine-wide
NGO Human Rights Advocates “Common Goal” Ruslan Bortnik.

Thanks to the individual voting system, we can at least see how
deputies acted in this extraordinary legislatorial situation.

So, 234 members of parliament voted for the draft law.

The news of the adoption of the “language law” in the first reading
was received with a number of protests, one of them taking place near
the Verkhovna Rada building, and some more in other Ukrainian cities.
Despite the fact that for a few last years the “language law” was just
a horror story, another empty promise made during the elections, many
experts predicted it might be adopted this time. The results of the
voting were quite predictable, and the appeals to join the protest
actions against this draft law were spread on the web a week ago.
However, the Party of Regions were prepared, outside as well as
inside. The supporters of the Party of Regions were protected by the
police, while the meeting held by the opposition was forced to move
away from the parliament building. And in the session hall, members of
the Party of Regions blocked the tribune. It seemed as if the main
legislative body of the country was under occupation. And the
opposition, despite all its loud statements and appeals, turned out to
be simply helpless. Meanwhile, Kivalov said, “If we passed it in the
first reading, we are going to pass it during the final vote.” It
seemed like his words were not addressed to the community, but
somewhere higher, beyond it.

MP Volodymyr Vechirko was very precise while identifying the essence
of truth for the Party of Regions. He said that the most important was
that we (that is, they) could live happily. In this case, we can just
go back to the primitive society from the times of cave people. Why
not, if we can live happily like that!

Of course, the consequences of the enacting of the draft (the final
vote can happen in the fall, on the eve of the election) may be hard
to predict. But did it come completely as a surprise? The
Kivalov-Kolesnichenko initiative was not the first attempt to encroach
upon Ukraine’s official language over the past 20 years. At a certain
point in time Viktor Medvedchuk, who today is urging us to make a
“Ukrainian choice” from numerous bill-boards, also tried to press a
“language” draft law through – of course, solely for the sake of
defending national minorities’ rights. Back then, he failed.

The Party of Regions, in its turn, did everything to make its dream
come true. Truth be said, the PoR did not suffer from a lack of
voluntary helpers. All in all, the language theme has a long
pre-history and a vaster still background. The passing of Draft Law
No. 9073 in the first reading was possible due to a series of fatal
mistakes, made by certain individuals: from Kuchma’s revival of the
Communist Party before 1999 to the Orange revolutionaries’ totally
irresponsible and infantile policies during their five-year rule. So
it was only natural that on the wasteland of conformism, where
nationwide media shamelessly rotate the Ukrainian Communist Party’s
commercials, only weeds should flourish rather than the healthy
sprouts, which needed active effort and cultivation. The Day has long
been saying that being Ukrainian in a post-genocide society involves
an effort. While these efforts were insufficient, certain forces
simply made use of this moment of total state destruction and
Ukraine’s global discredit in information space, in order to push it
yet another step forward towards the overhauling of the old empire.

By the way, almost simultaneously with the voting in the Verkhovna
Rada, the Russian State Duma was considering a draft law which
involves higher fines for all manner of violations during rallies. The
Russian liberal community sees this draft as cracking down on Russian
civic resistance and wiping it out as a phenomenon. “Of course, these
are totally unprecedented amendments because they virtually allow the
government to impose unprecedented fines – not for what people
actually did, but for what they were thinking while doing it. The
matter is not that a citizen was taking a walk, but that while doing
so, he meant to give the regime the middle finger. If I remember it
right, the most recent laws in human history to punish for thoughts
and opinions were imposed by the Holy Inquisition,” said journalist
Yulia LATYNINA, speaking on Echo of Moscow.

What a curious picture is taking shape: the ultimate cracking down on
the opposition in Russia is accompanied by the corroding of Ukraine
from the inside. Besides, in Europe’s eyes Ukraine is again cutting a
faulty figure, with its massacre of strays, racial intolerance, and
altogether an image of a savage country which rightfully belongs in
the outskirts of a despotic Eurasian empire.

Orest MUTS, the Party of Regions:

“I do not want my grandchildren to say that their grandfather was a traitor”

You voted against the language draft law. This is quite untypical for
a representative of the Party of Regions.

“First of all, I represent Ternopil oblast. It is the most Ukrainized
region. According to the last census of the population, 98.5 percent
of people who live in Ternopil oblast identify themselves as
Ukrainians. This region is a democracy barometer. There, the spiritual
compound of life is valued more than the material one. Second, my vote
is the proof of the democratic character of the Party of Regions. This
is the only party I have ever been a member of. It is not the party
that makes the man, but the man makes the party.”

And what about the party discipline?

“The party discipline and my position, the democratic character of the
party are very different things. Other MPs can use my example to see
that if you have a stand, you can defend it. Even if it does not
coincide with the party’s program. As long as it does not conflict
with the opinion of the community you represent, it is fine. For
people who elected me, voting for a law like this is equal to
betraying parents. I do not want my children or grandchildren to say
that their father or grandfather was a traitor.”

But anyway, your party voted for the law and approved it. Do you feel
responsible for it?

“If I am a part of the team, I bear responsibility for it. I am
responsible for the Party of Regions. My task is to increase the
number of people who would support my position before the second
reading takes place. Content argumentation needs to be presented.
There should be more votes against the law, and less for it. Everyone
has to do what they have to. It is very easy to teach how to love our
Mother-Ukraine, respect the language, and wear a vyshyvanka in a
Ukrainized region. I would wish for people who do that to go over to
eastern Ukraine and try to do the same. A lot of things are not
understood there at all, for example, our heroes are not accepted in
the east.”

Have you ever considered changing a party?

“Unlike other deputies who represent Ternopil oblast, I have never
been a member of any other party. I need to find a way to make my
stand, to convince, and look for the valid arguments from where I am
now. I do not want to prove anything to anyone, I just want my fellow
party members to see that I stand up for the values that are dear to

But judging from the result, you failed to convince your fellow party members?

“If you have a stand, you can always defend it. You need to think
about the people you present in the parliament, not the party

The opposition failed to defend their stand. Why do you think this happened?

“Because the opposition is weak. If they believed in the values they
pretend to protect instead of just talking about them, then the draft
law would not be approved. Which deputies did they work with? Who did
they try to convince?”


“This is just another cheating manipulation of the government”

Your party was the author of numerous appeals to the citizens to
protect Ukrainian language. Why did the opposition failed to do so?

“Unfortunately, the representatives of the Party of Regions in the VR
are a big group of cheaters. As this situation showed us, they taught
Speaker Lytvyn this ‘art’ too. So, what happened? When we asked for a
break to carry out consultations, Lytvyn agreed, but he offered to go
on with the routine work and remove some of the draft laws from the
voting agenda at the instance of their authors. And here the cheating
began. Lytvyn says, ‘Such-and-such draft law, who is for taking it off
the agenda?’ And then he says the name of the law and the author. So,
in that row of laws he comes to the language law without naming its
authors – Kivalov and Kolesnichenko, and then he asks, who is for it?
The statement was absolutely indistinct: were we to vote for taking it
off the agenda, or just vote for it in the first reading? It was just
a regular sharper’s manipulation.

“It cannot be said that this tragedy was traumatic. People came to
defend their rights for Ukrainian language, unlike those who were paid
to stand under the walls of the VR building. They were defending their
right to speak their native language, the right to make the laws in
the country work, instead of the rules established by the present
criminal government.

“Actually, the fate of Ukraine is not being decided in the session
hall right now, it is to be decided during the elections.”

What are your further actions?

“Do we want a show or a result? If we wanted a show, we could have
arranged a fight in the parliament today, it would make an interesting
spectacle. The same can be done in a month. But there will be no

“I repeat again, the elections are the key. After that, you cannot
blame the opposition or anybody else anymore. What can the opposition
do now? It can obstruct the approval of this law during the final vote
in every possible way. Everyone has to draw conclusions. The main
point is not that the normal people were fooled at the thimblerig, but
that the thimbleriggers presented themselves to the whole country.”

Representatives of the Party of Regions say that the opposition failed
to defend their position.

“They have ‘technologies.’ We do not want to play their games.”

They can play the same game during the elections, and if you refuse to
take part again, they will simply cheat you the same way.

“They will cheat not us, but the whole nation.”

What methods does the opposition offer?

“They have the majority in the parliament right now, but there are
more of us out in the streets. We can go on with the conversations of
the opposition’s success and failure, but the most important is for
the people to be able to self-organize themselves. Together we can
block the rigging during the elections.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day


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