Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Starting next year, in Ukraine the ban on teaching in any language other than Ukrainian will be introduced. This is stated in the law “On education“, which was signed by Poroshenko. This innovation is actively discussed in Russia, Ukraine, and EU countries. “KP” asked Oleg Tsarev, former candidate for the Ukrainian Presidency and Rada Deputy of four convocations to comment on this initiative.
To whom it is native
Oleg, data on how many citizens of Ukraine consider Russian as their native language varies. The Kiev Razumkov Center gives figures: 14% name Russian as their native language, and 75% – Ukrainian. On the other hand, according to the Gallup Institute, 83% of Ukrainians use Russian as their language of requests on the Internet and communication.
“To some extent, both the Americans and Kievans are right. They conducted research on different techniques. If you take the number of search queries in Google and Yandex, they will be mostly in Russian – and the statistics of Americans will be confirmed. This is open data: when withdrawing money at ATMs, Ukrainians mostly choose the Russian language. In favor of the data collected by the Americans is also the fact that predominantly it is the urban population of Ukraine that speaks in Russian, and rural areas – in Ukrainian. Even Lvov and Ternopol speak in Russian. My childhood was spent in Ternopol – there in the city only natives from the surrounding villages spoke in Ukrainian. This was a bright marker: that the person is a stranger, not from the city. This complex was kept by many members of the Ukrainian elite. But the numbers of the Razumkov Centre can also be actual – the surveys are conducted in person, because of the current propaganda. Both school and higher education is focused on the Ukrainian language becoming the primary one. Even those who are not able to speak Ukrainian now hammer this thesis, like a mantra, into consciousness.”
Ginekolog (Gynecologist) or Pakhvyglyad (observation of the groin)
Poroshenko law “On Education” is the final displacement of the Russian language to the sidelines?
“Following the imposition of quotas on Russian language on television and radio and the current law ‘On Education’ the Russian language, of course, will be displaced to the periphery. The most insulting thing is that power has changed in Ukraine during a quarter of a century, and the attitude towards the Russian language did not improve. Even if there were some positions that the Russian language cede under Yushchenko’s reign, under Yanukovych the situation was simply frozen. But the reverse process didn’t happen at all! More and more Russian people try to teach their children the Ukrainian language, otherwise it is difficult to survive.”
So what about University education, scientific terminology, in which there simply was not any Ukrainian definitions?
“Yes, there weren’t any counterparts to many technical or medical terms in the Ukrainian language. And that’s why ridiculous neologisms appeared. People were outraged when they in their textbook it was written ‘pakhvyglyad’ instead of ‘ginekolog’. And for ‘akusher’ (obstetrician) – ‘puporizka’ (umbilical cord cutter).
During a meeting with voters people expressed to me their indignation. But people get used to everything. And then start to use it. I am a Deputy of four convocations, and I had to read a lot of legal literature in the Ukrainian language. And, despite the fact that now I live in Russia, when I speak about legal nuances, internally I switch to the Ukrainian language. Even mathematicians, engineers, and doctors get used to it.”
Who’s going to stop it?
According to surveys conducted during previous years, in the South-East of Ukraine 90% of the population speaks Russian. In the center of the country the balance is about 50:50, and only in the West is there an overbalance of Ukrainian… When will all of Ukraine speak in Ukrainian?
“As mathematicians and physicians say, the important thing is not the speed of the process, the most important thing is the first derivative. I.e. that the process continues. And it’s not important, in 3, 6, or 10 years, but the population of the Southeast will begin to send requests in the Ukrainian language. This is a trend. It is principally important that the Russian language step by step cedes its position.”
This process is unstoppable – regardless of who sits in Parliament or in the Presidency of the country?
“I did not say that. But I don’t see anything in the near future that can stop this process. The West gradually and systematically continues to work on the tearing-off of Ukraine from Russia. The appropriately-oriented elite is being raised. During all the time not a lot, but constant money was spent for this. I don’t see any countermeasures, besides individual attempts of some idealists.”
According to the local sociological Razumkov Center, 17% of Ukrainian citizens consider equally both languages – Russian and Ukrainian – as their native one.
93% of queries in Google in the Southeast used the Russian language, and in Western Ukraine – from 46% (in Chernovtsi region) to 77% (in Ternopil).
As a reminder
On the Danube and Vistula people are outraged
Six European countries protested against the adoption of the Ukrainian law “On education”, which discriminates against the rights of national minorities, in particular Hungarians and Poles, to receive education in their native language. Hungary and Romania react more sharply than others – the President of the latter Iohannis even canceled his planned visit to Kiev.
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