What language policy does Ukraine need?
The Council of Europe's Venice Commission presented on Monday its report on Ukraine's controversial education act. The report was compiled at Kiev's request. The education act suspends almost all school lessons in minority languages. The Commission criticises this particularly as regards Russian and called for amendments. A look at Ukraine's newspapers shows how controversial this topic is in the country.
This is anything but equal treatment
The Commission sees the need for Kiev to make substantial progress on its language policy, political scientist Ruslan Bortnik explains in KP:
“Indeed, the key theses of the commission's report don't speak in Ukraine's favour: the law must be revised, the existing right to classes in a minority language must not be restricted. And then there's the mention of the word 'discrimination'. That means the report is a crushing defeat, only not for Ukraine but for the 'war party' currently in power. The world and Europe tell us how we can make our language policy more balanced.”
Ukrainian discriminated against for centuries
For historical reasons first and foremost the Ukrainian language must be protected in Ukraine, journalist Valentin Torba writes in an article published by Den in both Ukrainian and Russian:
“Regarding the Venice Commission's focus on the protection of Russian, one must ask if it really understands the situation in Ukraine at all. It should not be forgotten that the Ukrainian language was discriminated against for centuries. And unfortunately nothing changed with independence: in eastern Ukraine and Crimea the Ukrainian language was de facto suppressed by Russian. Now part of Ukraine is occupied, and a harsh policy of Russification is being pushed through.”