Prominent Ukrainians appeal to Ukraine’s parliament to pass amended language law

"Decommunization, visa-free regime, association agreement, language law"

"Decommunization, visa-free regime, association agreement, language law" 

Analysis & Opinion, Featured

Some eighty prominent political and cultural leaders in Ukraine have signed an appeal to the Verkhovana Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine to pass the proposed draft law designed to ensure the full implementation of Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine on the state language of Ukraine.

The draft bill on the Ukrainian language must be passed immediately

The registration in the Verkhovna Rada of the draft bill No. 5670-d “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language” gives Ukraine a realistic chance to build a coherent system for the development, protection and support of the Ukrainian language.

This bill is designed to ensure the implementation of the requirements  of Article 10 of the Constitution: “The state ensures the comprehensive development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life throughout Ukraine.” Failure to comply with the requirements (of the Constitution) have already led to grave consequences, including contributing to Russia’s armed aggression in Crimea and the east of Ukraine, and continues to threaten the independence and integrity of the country.

The Ukrainian language is not simply a means of communication or a cultural heritage. It is an important element of constitutional order, a factor in state unity and national security.

Passing the law on the status of the Ukrainian language is an urgent duty of the parliament.

The fact that the bill No. 56670-d is supported by the Committee on Culture and Spirituality and that 76 deputies are its co-authors attests to the growing awareness of the importance of this issue. The draft law amended by the Committee has been signed by representatives of 6 factions as well as by non-factional representatives, including the majority of the co-authors of three previous bills on the Ukrainian language. This makes it possible to minimize any political speculation and inter-party competition when considering an issue of national importance.

Public and expert circles have reached a broad consensus regarding the draft law No. 5670, which served as the basis for the revised No. 5670-d bill. The adoption of this law was supported in letters, statements, and appeals from more than 70 national and hundreds of local community organizations, as well as academicians from the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, the Kyiv National University, the Lviv National University and other scientific and academic institutions, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Science and Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting, and community and cultural leaders.

This bill guarantees to everyone the right to receive information and services in the Ukrainian language in all public spheres, provides for an effective system of control and sanctions for violations, and abolishes the odious Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law. At the same time, the project is not directed against any languages or national minorities. It is a methodical quality document that is based on the best models of European language legislation and meets the challenges of the time.

The thesis that is being thrust on Ukrainian politicians that the law on state  language supposedly will lead to confrontations in society has no basis. Polling data clearly indicates that the majority of Ukrainian citizens support the key provisions of the bill.

For example, in a nationwide poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (May 2017), 64% of the respondents said that the state needs to support the Ukrainian language first of all, 19% said that all languages should receive equal support, 2% said the Russian language should be supported.

Of those polled, 61% believe the task of the state language policy is to “promote the spread of Ukrainian in all spheres of life”; 68% believe that documentation in state institutions should be conducted only in Ukrainian; 59% support Ukrainian as the only language of communication in institutions; 54% consider that in trade and services requests posed in the Ukrainian language should always be answered in Ukrainian.

There is not only the necessity but also all the prerequisites for adopting the critical law.

We call on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to take advantage of the historical opportunity to fulfill its obligation to adopt immediately the draft law No. 5670-d “On ensuring the functioning of Ukrainian as the state language” as a basis, and then, after the addition of possible constructive amendments, to adopt it in its entirety.

We call on the President, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, the members of the government, all political forces and community associations who understand the significance of this issue, every deputy and every responsible citizen, to reject external pressures and groundless bias and together to support the law on the Ukrainian language as an important step on the way to national unity and the state development of Ukraine.

Oleksandr Avramenko, linguist, teacher, radio and TV anchor

Bohdan Azhniuk, Director at the Institute of Linguistics, The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Alina Akulenko, Editor-in-chief, Ukrainian Radio, political and community programs

Ivan Andrusiak, poet, writer, translator

Hennadii Afanasiev, community activists, former political prisoner of the Kremlin

Myroslava Barchuk, TV anchor

Mykhailo Basarab, political scientist

Oleksandr Borysenko, journalist

Volodymyr Vasylenko, Doctor of Law, Professor, Extraordionary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine

Yurii Vynnychuk, writer, journalist, editor

Irma Vitovska, Honored Artist of Ukraine

Volodymyr Viatrovych, head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory

Viktor Heneraliuk, Zarevo Association of Ukrainian Students

Yurii Hnatkevych, Yevhen Chykalenko Center of National Renaissance

Pavlo Hrytsenko, professor, Director of the Institute of the Ukrainian Language at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Roman Holovenko, head of the legal project at the Institute  of Mass Information

Analoliy Dnistrovyi, writer, artist

Ivan Drach, poet, Hero of Ukraine, laureate of the National Taras Shevchenko Prize

Otap Dovzhenko, journalist

Mykola Zhulynskyi, literary scholar, academician at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Director of the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Oleksandr Ivanov, Speak Ukrainian initiative

Olena Ivanovska, Professor at the Taras Shevchenko National University

Oleksandr Irvanets, poet, translator

Serhiy Kvit, literary critic, journalist, professor at the National University of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy

Vladyslav Kyrychenko, founder of the Nash Format publishing house

Oleksiy Kliashtornyi, Defense of Ukraine Foundation

Ivanna Kobieleva, “Drizhdi” initiative

Maksym Kobielev, language policy portal

Ihor Kozub, Volunteer Association of Participants in Maidan and the War

Ihor Koliushko, chairman of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms

Serhii Kuzan, NGO “Free People”

Ivan Lenio, musician, leader of the Kozak System group

Sviatoslav Litynskyi, Nezalezhni (Independents) organization

Ivan Lozovyi, Committee to Protect the Ukrainian Language

Rostislav Luzhetsky, artist

Ivan Malkovych, poet, publisher, founder of the publishing house “A-ba-ga-la-ma-ha,” laureate of the National Taras Shevchenko Award

Yuriy Makarov, journalist

Taras Marusyk, deputy chairman of the Committee on the Application of the Ukrainian Language in All Spheres of Public Life under the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine

Larisa Masenko, sociolinguist, doctor of philology, professor at the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Oleksandra Matviichuk, human rights defender

Roman Matys, initiative to protect the rights of Ukrainian-speakers

Dzvinka Matiiash, writer

Alina Mykhailova, volunteer “Army-SOS,” paramedic

Pavlo Movchan, Head of the Ukrainian Prosvita Society, Laureate of the National Taras Shevchenko Prize

Michael Moser, professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna, president of the International Association of Ukrainian Studies

Serhiy Osnach, Member of the Expert Committee on the Distribution and Exhibition of Movies at Derzhkino (Ukrainian State Film Agency)

Svitlana Ostapa, journalist

Serhii Pantiuk, publisher, poet, writer

Dmitry Pavlychko, poet, translator, Hero of Ukraine, Laureate of the National Taras Shevchenko Prize

Svitlana Pyrkalo, writer

Yaroslav PidhoraGviazdovskyi, film critic

Svitlana Povaliaieva, writer

Pavel Podobied, Heroiika charity foundation

Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, political scientist

Maxim Potapchuk, Liberi Liberati Foundation

Yevhen Repetko, community activist

Victor Roh, editor-in-chief, Shliax Peremohy (Path to Victory) newspaper

Anastasia Rozlutska, Free Ukrainian Language Courses

Angelica Rudnytska, singer, TV presenter, artist

Mariana Savka, writer, publisher

Olha Salo, Research Center of the Liberation Movement

Dmytro Sinchenko, Association of Political Sciences

Olena Sinchenko, Eksampei Center for Ukrainian Policy “”

Oleg Slabospytskyi, Public Sector for Euromaidan

Ivan Sprynskyi, “Slaves are not admitted to paradise” NGO

Valerii Subotin, “Musical Battalion” association

Viktor Taran, Center “Eidos”

Nadia Trach, linguist

Solomia Farion, Youth Nationalist Congress

Serhiy Fomenko, singer, composer, Honored Artist of Ukraine, leader of the band “Mandry”

Kateryna Chepura, Community Defense Movement

Yaryna Chornohuz, Language Marathon Initiative

Taras Shamaida, Prostir Svobody (Freedom Space) movement

Yurii Shevchuk, linguist, journalist, professor at Columbia University

Nadiya Shelestak, “Varta 700” NGO

Vasyl Shkliar, writer, laureate of the Taras Shevchenko National Award

Andriy Shchekun, “Ukrainian House” Crimean Center for Business and Cultural Cooperation

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Reforms Center of the Institute of Social Innovations Development.

Andrii Yusov, School of Responsible Politics


Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Radio Svoboda

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  • Fortranz

    Careful Ukraine with this measure you are giving the Russians what they want. That is to say that Ukraine is bigoted and trying to oppress the human rights of Russians in Ukraine.

    • gmab

      They’ve been saying that since before the war so nothing will change. It is the “superficial” reason for Putler’s annexation & war in the east. We could always pull a “whataboutism” & question Russia’s lack of support for Ukrainian language and culture anywhere inside his Federation.

      • Fortranz

        You are right, however, I fear that this just might renew their efforts at starting more ethnic violence in places like Odessa.

        • gmab

          As I said before, nothing will change. RuSSia has been spreading vicious propaganda for decades. What you are saying is you’re afraid to provoke Russia. Ukrainians are past that stage now and US & Europe are finally catching on. Appeasement never works in the long run. Over the past year, Russia has sent more thugs to Odessa & other southern oblasts and SBU have curtailed their plots & in some cases a few steps ahead of them. It will be an ongoing issue for decades to come but doesn’t mean they will be successful.

          • Fortranz

            I’m not trying to dispute you here, but you might not want to be so confident of “- and US & Europe are finally catching on.-” to Russian propaganda tactics. I’d say more Europe here than the US, however, there is still a long way to go to get this across to the majority of the pubic in both places. This is what my caution is based on, and I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

    • Микола Данчук

      Wait a minute, hasn’t Putin oppressed human rights of ethnic-Russians (as well as every other ethnicity) in the RF?
      We are talking State language, like France, Spain, England, etc. etc.

      • Fortranz

        “- Wait a minute, hasn’t Putin oppressed human rights of ethnic-Russians (as well as every other ethnicity) in the RF? -”

        True, and some how he gets a-way with it, which never cease to amaze me that he does, but what I’m worried about here is giving him propaganda opportunities.

    • Oknemfrod

      If the Ukrainians, before doing something that’s nobody’s business but theirs, pause and ponder whether it’s worth doing lest the Russians say something about it, they may as well do nothing at all. For there’s not a thing done by Ukraine in the last four years about which Russia, through its state-owned media, haven’t already said that it is bigoted, racist, fascist, and so on. In this scheme of things, adopting the law putting the Ukrainian language in its right place where it belongs in Ukraine is as much of Russian business as the Ukrainians’ wearing their national garb, vyshyvanka. The latter, by the way, is also considered by the Russians “nationalist” and “bigoted” and is a constant butt of asinine Russian jokes.

      As to the law itself, its adoption is long overdue. The Russians understand full well how important the Ukrainian language is for the Ukrainian national identity and consciousness. They also know full well how destructive the wide-spread use of Russian is to Ukraine. That is why – and not because of the ephemeral “suppression” of someone’s “linguistic rights” – they howl every time when anything is done to make room for Ukrainian at the expense of Russian. And that is why Ukrainian has been persecuted, banned, maimed, and laughed at by the Russians for centuries.

      p.s. The Russians certainly view the Ukrainian language as a weapon – and rightly so, and so should the Ukrainians. In fact, they realized it a long time ago. One of the best Ukrainian poets of all time, Lesya Ukrainka, wrote in 1896 a breathtakingly beautiful poem Слово, чому ти не твердая криця (Word, why aren’t you hard steel), one stanza saying, in particular:

      Слово, моя ти єдиная зброє,
      Ми не повинні загинуть обоє!
      Може, в руках невідомих братів
      Станеш ти кращим мечем на катів.

      Word, you’re my only weapon,
      We shouldn’t perish together!
      Maybe in the hands of unknown brothers
      You’ll become the best sword for cut-throats.

    • Andrew Chmile

      They’ll get over it.

      So will you!

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Only a small percentage of Ukrainophobes (mostly ethnic Russians) oppose the use of the Ukrainian language as the single State language of Ukraine. Why? Because the vast majority of this group of people are either brainwashed from the previous era of never ending Russian propaganda and/or are avowed Great Russian chauvinists. However, three truths cannot be changed: Ukraine is not Russia, it has never been Russia and it will never be Russia.

  • Tony

    Remember that time russians tried to make fake Ukrainian documents but screwed up the Ukrainian? That’s one benefit of having a unique state language, it’s harder to inflitrate and fake.

    • Mick Servian

      Hahaha quick put back your tinfoil hat

  • Mick Servian

    Being a strong country means not worrying your language needs to be reinforced. Being a banana state that’s unsure means making it up as you go along and making up bs laws.ĺ
    Ukraine reminds me of Croatia. They needed to make up a language too. Cause of the hate for Serbs.
    I wonder do people in Mexico speak mexicanese? What about Brazil? Must be Brazilian, eh?

    • gmab

      I wouldn’t say strong but well-established identity. If you knew anything about Ukraine you would know that their language & culture was forbidden for a very long time. Once Ukraine has full established it’s national identity then we can talk other languages. Russia uses language as a tool. Get up to speed will ya?

      • Mick Servian

        Yeah look.
        Problem is….when Serbia said similar things…it got laughed at and dismissed by the western media.
        If it wasn’t true then…why is it true now?