Moscow can’t close Ukrainian language schools in Russia because there aren’t any

A Russian state flag flying in Moscow-annexed Crimea next to its neglected and rusting infrastructure (Image: Alina Smutko,

A Russian state flag flying in Moscow-annexed Crimea next to its neglected and rusting infrastructure (Image: Alina Smutko, 

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A major reason that Moscow has to struggle to find symmetrical responses to anything other countries do is because it lacks many of the institutions that they have but that Russia does not, ranging from media environments open to almost anyone to schools in the languages of many minorities.

Consequently, the Kremlin is forced to identify “asymmetrical” replies that often put it even more at odds with others and that at the very least call attention to the lack of institutions on its own territory equivalent to those its government-controlled media complain about when other governments restrict them in any way.

Pavlo Kazarin

Pavlo Kazarin

A classical example of this involves schools in the languages of minority nationalities in other countries and in Russia. As Radio Liberty’s Pavlo Kazarin says, Moscow isn’t in a position to close Ukrainian language schools in response to Kyiv’s promotion of Ukrainian because there aren’t any Ukrainian-language schools in Russia.

Russia is currently threatening to “limit the activities of Ukrainian media on its territory,” the commentator says; but one is compelled to ask, Kazarin continues, “just what responsive actions is Moscow talking about?” Almost all Ukrainian media already have closed their bureaus and activities in Russia.

Russia, with remarkable success in many quarters, “is conducting itself as if it were the victim of Ukrainian aggression,” when in fact the situation is just the reverse. And it can complain as much as it wants to about Ukraine’s language law, but it can’t symmetrically respond because “Ukrainian schools in Russia don’t exist” for the millions of Ukrainians there.

Moscow can also complain about the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine, but it can’t respond by shuttering Ukrainian broadcasts to Russia because they were long ago shut out of Russian cable networks, except of course for pro-Moscow channels like Inter which by itself is “indicative.”

This list of places where Russia has no possible symmetric response because it has already closed out Ukrainian language, information and goods could be extended almost infinitely, Kazarin says. But everyone needs to remember that “the initiator of the divorce of the two countries from the very beginning was Moscow,” not Kyiv.

The Ukrainian authorities in recent months have begun to restore the balance to where Russian moves have brought their country, even though Moscow continues to act and some continue to believe that Ukraine is the problem, something that even the most cursory examination of the situation will demonstrate is not the case.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

    In as much as the Kremlin has always taken great pride in its use of “smoke and mirrors” to try and disguise their own demagoguery by quickly accusing their perceived enemies with false crimes where in fact it was Moscow that was guilty of committing those same crimes, this strategy has long lost any allure that it may have had in the past. And now, once again, it has become more than apparent that Putin’s propaganda machine has been churning lies about the new Ukrainian language policies in order to distract public attention from their never ending policy to Russify not just ethnic Ukrainians residing in Russia, but that this policy has also been applied to every non-Russian ethnic group in the Russian Federation. In other words, nothing has changed in Russia since its founding in the swamps of Muscovy. That would also explain why the vast majority of Russians cannot be trusted to treat others as equals since their ingrained chauvinism will not allow this to happen.

  2. Avatar veth says:
    After 2 years of torture health-check announced after Putin phoned……………………………….

  3. Avatar Cargocat says:

    Russia treat its own citizens as badly as they treat their minorities. I have a close friend from Russia who tells me stories that seems unreal: but I believe he is telling me the truth.