Horst D. Deckert

No More Russian Language on Air in Three Months – Kiev


Ukraine’s goal of eradicating bilingual media content has almost been achieved, the government has claimed.

Ukraine’s ban on using the Russian language in the media will take full effect three months from now, Kiev’s state language protection commissioner, Taras Kremin, has said.

Since gaining independence, Ukraine has been a bilingual nation, with most citizens able to speak or understand both Russian and Ukrainian. After the US-backed coup in Kiev in 2014, the new nationalist authorities adopted policies aimed at suppressing the Russian language, on the grounds of national unity and security.

The restrictions include a requirement for national media to predominantly use Ukrainian in broadcasts. The permitted share of content in Russian has declined from 40% in 2016 to an almost complete ban, which will come into force in July – the deadline that Kremin referred to in his statement on Wednesday.

“Today national television channels practice bilingual Ukrainian-Russian programming, in which participants use the Russian language without a translation or subtitles,” he said. “Starting on July 17, this practice will end. There will be more Ukrainian language!”

Read more ‘There are no Russian-speaking Ukrainians’ – Kiev 

The push by Ukrainian nationalist leaders to impose the state language on Russian-speakers living in the east of the country was a major reason for locals’ rejection of the post-coup authorities. One of the first acts of those who seized power in Kiev was to abolish a law adopted in 2012, which gave the Russian language official regional status.

The new authorities have been adopting laws to eradicate Russian from all spheres of public life, including education, entertainment, and even services provided by private businesses.

In an interview last year, Kremin denied that some Ukrainian citizens could be called Russian-speaking, describing the term was “a marker introduced by Russian ideology,” and declared that “everyone in the country must have a command of the Ukrainian language.”

In contrast, this week the leader of another post-Soviet nation, Kazakhstan, rejected the notion that one language spoken by his people should be favored over others.

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“Young people now are fluent in the state [Kazakh] language, in Russian language, in English and other languages, and that is good,” President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous to ramp up hysterics over a language, let alone fight against one, as they did in some other states. We all see what they have now as a result.”

The Kazakh leader did not specify which other nations he was referring to.

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