How Kremlin’s “minority rights” defenders are supporting Russian expansionism in Ukraine

REUTERS: Mykola Azarov, Moscow February 4, 2015.  


Article by: Taras Marusyk

Moscow relies on endlessly inventive rhetoric when it is a question of defaming its real or imaginary enemies or exonerating itself. There are no boundaries. Some 150 years ago, Moscow proclaimed that the Ukrainian language “did not exist, does not exist and cannot exist,” that the so-called Ukrainian language was invented by Little Russians and especially the Poles, since it is “the Russian language only spoiled by Polish influence.” And some 100 years ago, Moscow stated that Ukraine is an Austrian invention. Now this rhetoric has been successfully developed by Maria Zakharova, the understudy of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

But the repetition of the earlier clichés today, after the failure of one of the key Kremlin plan codenamed “Novorossiya,” means appearing both outdated and trivial. And Maria Zakharova, a diplomat with a doctorate in history, does not want to view herself that way. Therefore, she has creatively expanded the theories of her chauvinist predecessors at the Kremlin.

Maria ZakharovaShe has proposed engaging “international experts” to “analyze who the Ukrainian people are and to determine their real primordial interests.” And though this work is “serious, difficult, painful and enormous” she has already identified what errors need to be studied, even without the help of experts.  The Ukrainians, obviously, must follow Russian guidelines: “rejection of nationalism, rejection of reliance on radical forces, search for national consensus, cessation of methods that split society … especially on linguistic grounds…real efforts to analyze Ukraine’s interests and  the identity of the Ukrainian people (to determine) who they are and how to ensure the rights of all classes of the population.”

The Asian Studies scholar and researcher of the symbolism of traditional New Year celebrations in modern China and now the “star” of Kremlin diplomacy, has also expressed her views on the topics of Ukrainian law and philology. She decided to analyze the proposed No. 5670 bill on state language. (bill, introduced in January 2017,  designed to provide greater protection for the Ukrainian language —  Ed.). She read it very carefully, not overlooking the passage that says that attempts to establish multilingualism in the country are equivalent to attempts to overthrow the government and are subject to criminal prosecution. After reading it, she issued her judgment: “linguistic genocide.”

I would not analyze the statements of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in such detail if they did not display obvious signs of coordination with a large and heterogeneous group, composed not only of Russian deputies and officials in the executive branch, but also of Ukrainian fugitives to Russia and representatives of the fifth column in Ukraine. This is a kind of international group supporting Russian expansionism.

The day before Zakharova made her “original” statements, the former prime minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov posted a sizable message in his Facebook, attacking the No. 5670 bill: “mentally ill morons in the so-called Verkhovna Rada,” he wrote.

He appeared for a reason and according to a plan. Another phase  in the deliberate aggravation of the language issue is now being prepared by the Kremlin, although this process has never really ceased since Ukraine gained independence. When it became clear that Ukraine was finally escaping from the Russian embrace, the Kremlin, with the help of a convenient president of Ukraine, arranged a special operation that resulted in the scandalous adoption of the law “On the principles of state language policy” — the so-called Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law. (law passed during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych that granted the status of “regional language” to Russian, thus giving it extensive rights to usage in official documents, in education, the judiciary, and mass media — Ed.).


Vadym Kolesnichenko

The co-authors of this law, except for the former deputy Vadym Kolesnichenko, who today is a member of the Russian Rodina party and hiding from Ukrainian justice in Crimea, have not gone anywhere and are back “at work” — at Russia’s work. Again they are trying to slow the granting of constitutional protection for the use of the Ukrainian  language. A few of them are in the executive branch of Ukraine. A paradox? Yes, a Ukrainian paradox.

Even though Yana Salmina, Vadym Kolesnichenko’s former assistant, was not  listed as the formal co-author of the language law, she took part in press conferences on the law and was in the direction of the “Russian-speaking Ukraine Fund “(incidentally, the site of this “human rights” organization was “cleaned” by mid-2014). Now she heads up the “Center for minority rights” but has a direct relationship with the “Russian-speaking Ukraine Fund.” As Mykhailo Kovalchuk notes on the InformNapalm site, the Kremlin’s “Fund for the support and protection of the rights of compatriots living abroad continues to finance “Russian-speaking Ukraine and Yana Salmina expressed concern about the return of 500,000 rubles sent to this organization in September 2016. In addition, she has been hiring writers to create articles on the abuse of national minorities in Ukraine. Thus, for 2500 hryvnias, she orders materials where the main themes are “the government’s negative rhetoric on national minorities,” “everyday discrimination,” “expressions of intolerance by Ukrainian media” and so on.

Yana Salmina has also provided detailed instructions on how to influence the review of the bill “On principles of state language policy” by the Constitutional Court.

Ruslan Bortnik, another former aide to Vadim Kolesnichenko and the main co-author of the law “On principles of state language policy,” has now become a political scientist who heads up the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Management of Policy. He not only actively comments on new language bills but political events as well. For example, he gave an interview to the propaganda film A Call to a Friend by Belarusian state television. However, he was “surpassed” by the commentaries of yet another “old friend,” Vladimir Kornilov, the former director of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian NGO “The Institute of the CIS countries” and a member of the board of the “Russian-speaking Ukraine.”… Incidentally, Kornilov now resides in the Netherlands, where he has created the Center for Eurasian Studies. The New York Times has written about his active campaign against the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement during last year’s referendum in the Netherlands.

Arkady Monastyrsky, another co-author of the language law, heads up Jewish organizations as well as the Council on National Minorities at the Ministry of Education of Ukraine.


Radio Liberty: Vladimir Kornilov

Recently, with the help of financing from the Kremlin’s “Fund for the Support and Protection of Compatriots,” Yana Salmina organized a “round table” on the “Social and human rights in Ukraine” at Ukrinform. In addition to Monastyrsky, others have also attacked  Ukraine’s policies, especially on language. They include another co-author of the language law, Mykhailo Tovt, former deputy from the Party of Regions and the honorary president of the Democratic Association of the Hungarians of Ukraine; Mykhailo Pohrebynskyi, the pro-Russian political scientist who is predicting the collapse of Ukraine; Ihor Pilialiev from the “famous” Averroes Ukrainian-Arabic Institute institution; Leonid Kozhara, a former minister of foreign affairs and yet another member of the Party of Regions; and even the representative of such an exotic organization as “Union of the Ural Peoples of Ukraine.”

The head of the “Russian School” NGO, Oleksandr Kondriakov, has been spreading the well-known Kremlin theory that the abolition of the law “On principles of the state language policy” would provoke war. Furthermore, he has declared that certain people want to burn books that describe Novorossiya (!) and also has repeated Kremlin’s rhetoric that in Minsk  it is necessary to negotiate with the representatives of DNR and LNR, who are considered terrorists in Ukraine.

The facts cited here prove once again that the defenders of the “rights of the Russian-speakers” are more troubled by Ukraine’s right to exist separately from Russia. Let us at least recall the exhibit “Volyn Massacre: Polish and Jewish victims of OUN-UPA” organized by Vadym Kolesnichenko, who is suspected of violating Ukrainian law. Perhaps the Ukrainian authorities should look more closely at the other accomplished  “defenders of minority rights.”

Taras Marusyk, Deputy Chairman of the Coordination Council on the Use of the Ukrainian Language in all Spheres of Public Life, The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine

Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Source: Radio Svoboda

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  1. Avatar veth says:

    Cabinet okays Ukraine growth plan until 2020 Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers on Monday, April 3, approved a plan for the country’s development for the medium-term outlook until 2020, which foresees sustainable economic development projected at 4-5% of GDP per year.

    Economy 16:12, 03 April 2017

    Groysman’s government forecasts sustainable 4-5% of GDP growth per year / Photo from UNIAN “We should build a strong, competitive economy with sustainable 4-5% of GDP growth per year. We should move forward from a raw-material economy. For the entire last year, we were analyzing how we could move over to the production of value-added goods… Forward means efficient government service, the development of human capital assets,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said while presenting the document. Read also Ukraine’s local budgets to grow by 25% in 2017 – PM Groysman In his words, the plan is also aimed at poverty reduction and guarantee of the supremacy of law through high-quality judicial and anti-corruption components. “Other important priorities are security and defense – both internal and external,” he said. “The plan foresees that sustainable economic growth will be achieved through the creation of a favorable business climate, the stimulation of investment, along with deregulation, privatization, land and energy reforms, and modernization of infrastructure. What is more, efficient public administration will be handled by the government via the introduction of advanced information technology, and the implementation of a new law on civil servants, and public finance reform. Health care reform, pension and education reforms will be conducted to develop human capital assets. The government will also facilitate the work of anti-corruption agencies, encourage the protection of ownership rights and implement judicial reform to ensure the supremacy of law. In the defense sector, the Cabinet will develop the National Guard, and bring the Interior Ministry’s law-enforcement agencies in line with European standards. The Ukrainian government is also committed to take measures to end the Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbas and reintegrate them into the rest of the country.

    1. Avatar Murf says:

      Excellent news Veth.

      1. Avatar veth says:


      2. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

        veth is cool to give us the economics — as YOU do Murf!!!

        So thank you too!!!

  2. Avatar veth says:

    IMF approves 4th loan tranche for Ukraine Ukraine’s key creditor, the International Monetary Fund, has completed the third review of its cooperation program with Ukraine involving the Extended Fund Facility and approved for the first time in history the allocation to Ukraine of the fourth loan tranche worth $1 billion, President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

    Read more on UNIAN:

    1. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

      Thank you for all the info you provide!!!

    2. Avatar Alex George says:

      Yes, interesting in view of all the insuations by Putin trolls that this was never going to be granted!

  3. Avatar veth says:

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  4. Avatar Alex George says:

    These people are banging their head against a brick wall. Use of the Ukrainian language is growing in Ukraine.

    They seem to think that they are still in charge, and able to threaten and cajole the Ukrainian people to do what they want. Those days are gone, and the Ukrainian people make their own decisions.

  5. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

    It seems everyone has missed the importance of Ukrainian language usage in Ukraine except the Russo-mongolians.