Moscow’s invasion hasn’t affected Russian language rights in Ukraine, experts say

Yuliya Tyshchenko, the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (Image: QHA News)

Yuliya Tyshchenko, the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (Image: QHA News) 

Analysis & Opinion, Culture, Ukraine

Despite Moscow’s claims and the expectations of some others, Russia’s Anschluss of Crimea and its invasion of the Donbas have not had an impact on the language rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine and that the rights of that community are currently “completely satisfied,” according to a survey of experts in Ukraine.

Yuliya Tyshchenko of the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research surveyed experts, about that issue as part of a study on “Questions of Identity for Russian Speakers in Ukraine in the Context of the Armed Conflict in the East of Ukraine.”

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed, the sociologist says, were “Russian-speaking citizens and a significant portion of them were ethnic Russians who consider Russian to be their native language.” Among them were journalists, political analysts, artists, and others of the same kind.

“The main task of the research,” Tyshchenko says, “was to find out whether there had been a change in the understanding and attitude of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine after the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine” and what Russian speakers expect to be the course of developments in the future.

The study found, the sociologist continues, that “90 percent of the respondents consider that the cultural requirements of Russian-speakers are being satisfied.” Only ten percent say that these requirements are either not being satisfied or are being satisfied only partially at the present time.

Seventy percent say that no real threat to Russians existed before the beginning of the conflict, despite Moscow’s claims. And “20 percent of them are certain that the sense of a threat was created by Russian media” rather than reflecting facts on the ground. Today, 80 percent say that Russian speakers face no problems, while 16 percent say there are occasional ones.

Perhaps Tyshchenko’s most significant finding was the following:

“Almost 90 percent of Russian speakers consider that all citizens of Ukraine without exception and independent of ethnic origin form a political nation.” Only seven percent say that this is not the case and that Russian speakers and ethnic Russians feel themselves separate from that nation.

More than 30 percent of the experts surveyed said that in their view, “the large print runs of Russian-language media” are the result of the influence of “the owners of businesses on language policy” rather than anything else. And two out of three added that trust in these media reflected judgments about the positions and journalistic standards rather language.

Recently, QHA News Agency says in reporting this study, the Ukrainian state Committee on TV and Radio Broadcasting called on the culture ministry to work toward an improvement in laws about language so that Ukrainian will spread to more groups of the population. In the absence of such laws, the committee suggested, there will be a “creeping” spread of Russian.


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Edited by: A. N.

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