Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On the territory of the Zhytomyr region, following the example of Lvov, a moratorium on the public use of the Russian-speaking cultural product was imposed.
Deputies of the regional council voted for this decision on Thursday, October 25th.
It is characteristic that the moratorium is completely identical to the decision of the Lvov regional council adopted on September 18th of the current year. The initiators in both cases were deputies from the “Svoboda“ party – in Lvov it was Ruslan Koshulinsky, and in Zhytomyr it was Sidor Kizin.
The “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform already analysed the attempts of regional deputies to impose a moratorium on the “Russian-speaking cultural product”. In particular, such a decision contradicts article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine, where it is specified that in Ukraine the free development, use, and protection of the Russian language and other languages of ethnic minorities of Ukraine is guaranteed. Also, the initiative of local authorities doesn’t correspond to the Law “On Culture”. Besides this, a definition of the term “Russian-speaking cultural product in any forms” hasn’t been provided by anybody.
Thus, the initiative of deputies has no legal grounds and has at most an advisory nature.
Nevertheless, by its decision the regional council not just recommends, but also plans to enforce its anti-constitutional decision. For this purpose, according to the decision, an inter-departmental working group for carrying out explanatory work in relation to the specified moratorium will be created. The structure of the group will include law enforcement bodies, officials of the district state administrations, and the public.
Moreover, the first precedent has already been documented in Lvov. Thus, the editor-in-chief of the “Sho” magazine Aleksandr Kabanov received a letter from the distributor warning that the magazine can no longer be on sale in the Lvov region, since the Lvov regional council made a decision to impose a moratorium on the “Russian-speaking cultural product”. This decision also applies to this magazine (some of the content of the magazine is published in Russian). Aleksandr Kabanov reported about such a letter on Facebook.
In parallel, a number of Russian-speaking regions have abandoned Russian as the regional language. Thus, in July the Nikolaev district administrative court nullified the decision of the regional council to give Russian the status of a regional language, and in Kherson the status of a regional language was cancelled by deputies of the regional council on October 21st. Nikolaev and Kherson reasoned the cancellation by referring to the “Kolesnichenko-Kivalov“ language law.
Thus, in Ukraine at the moment there are only a few regions where Russian has the nominal status of a regional language – Kharkov, Odessa, and Zaporozhye.
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