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Thread: Members of Ukrainian parliament fight over Russian language

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    Members of Ukrainian parliament fight over Russian language

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HMjISG76ck

    The fight is about the proposal to recognize Russian as regional language in 13 out of 27 regions of Ukraine, with more than 10% of native Russian speakers.

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    Почтенный гражданин LXNDR's Avatar
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    the so called Law About Languages which is being proposed doesn't limit the number of regions where 'a regional' language can be established alongside the official Ukrainian, the population speaking a certain language must amount to at least 10% of the entire population of the administrative unit in order for this language to have the right to receive 'regional' status

    in reality almost in every administrative unit Russian speaking population easily makes up 10% meaning that through this law Russian language will have all the chances to eventually become the second official language alongside Ukrainian

    now legally speaking this law is anticonstitutional because its multiple clauses allow other language(s) becoming official for governmental bodies on the regional level
    Clause 10 of the constitution of Ukraine declares Ukrainian as the official language of the state

    hence the only way to lawfully make Russian or any other language official is by constitutional reform which then has to be validated on a state referendum
    constitutional reform is a long process and it has to be voted for by 2/3 of the MPs which i don't think is feasible


    politically speaking, Ukraine is on its way to the parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn, so various political forces try to gain dividends by speculating on the issue of language, because being politically insolvent they realistically do not have anything else to offer to the citizens or base their campaigns on

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    Russian parliament is so boring compared to Ukrainian one...
    Maybe it's because "Edinaya Rossiya" has Nikolai "Beast from the East" Valuev on its side...


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    Почтенный гражданин LXNDR's Avatar
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    but Ukrainian will only become more vicious if Klitchko is elected with his party

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Well it's clear that a large proportion of Ukrainians prefer to speak Russian over Ukrainian. What is the problem with having two official languages and double signs? Who is against that, and why?

    That way everybody can speak the language they prefer. If the Russian speakers feel discriminated against, they will become disloyal to the Ukrainian state and perhaps identify more with Russia/Russians.

    Anyway, that kind of behaviour in the parliament is disgraceful and it is not good for Ukraine's image. I don't think it's the first time it happened either.

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    The main argument of the opponents is similar to that in Latvia, I think. They fear that Russian would dominate over national language, because it's "bigger". So they prefer to pretend (on official level) that Russian doesn't exist in the country and consider the problem of preserving Ukrainian solved (angry native Russian speakers don't matter)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Well it's clear that a large proportion of Ukrainians prefer to speak Russian over Ukrainian. What is the problem with having two official languages and double signs? Who is against that, and why?

    That way everybody can speak the language they prefer. If the Russian speakers feel discriminated against, they will become disloyal to the Ukrainian state and perhaps identify more with Russia/Russians.

    Anyway, that kind of behaviour in the parliament is disgraceful and it is not good for Ukraine's image. I don't think it's the first time it happened either.
    because if this is done, Ukrainian language will eventually die out, this is not the way languages are revived, Belorussian language is on it's last legs for the same reason
    that's the problem, no one is discriminated against on the language basis, and Ukrainian nationals even though they may speak Russian, normally do not support the idea of another official language
    and even if anyone was discriminated against there's judicial system to restore one's rights which are guaranteed by the constitution
    i'm not aware that there have been any court cases dealing with language discrimination

    Ukrainian is the titular nation in Ukraine just like the Swedes in Sweden therefore its language has to remain the only official language in the country. And with the right domestic policy it's only a matter of time that Ukrainian becomes widely spoken

    But if another language was to be added, the proper procedure I outlined above, what this anti-ukrainian Party Of Regions is doing by proposing this law is not only unlawful, it's borderline treason

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    One third of Ukrainian citizens have Russian as their mother tongue. Isn't it unfair not to recognize their native language officially (at least on regional level, as it's proposed)?

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    it's only fair if their language rights are systematically are discriminated against and the judicial system has been unable to curtail this phenomenon, which is not the case

    the constitution of Ukraine is fait accompli, you can call it unfair, so was the decision of Ukrainian citizens including Russian speaking ones

    for many proponents of the second language it's simply an excuse to not learn and know Ukrainian

    moreover this law opens the whole can of worms for social stability in the country and is dangerous for its very integrity

    here's a very sane article on the topic of Russian in former soviet republics

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    This article is Russophobic. It portrays Russians in a very negative light in just about every respect. In the end the author calls Russian "the enemy language". I don't see how it could be "very sane article"

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    every nation which comes to another land and start dictating rules will be perceived as threat and phobia is nothing else than fear, fear of threat in this case, so russophobia is just a manifestation of self-preservation instinct of a nation which feels threatened by Russia

    and I just agree that Russian state and Russian citizens insofar as they agree with their government policies pose threat to neighboring countries, or at least unfriendly towards them, especially if those countries are oriented towards European values, which are by and large incongruent with the values Russian state currently adheres to

    its aggressiveness Russian state has demonstrated in a recent armed conflict with Georgia

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    Quote Originally Posted by xdns View Post
    One third of Ukrainian citizens have Russian as their mother tongue. Isn't it unfair not to recognize their native language officially (at least on regional level, as it's proposed)?
    +1
    Those who are against Russian language usually state that "it does not matter" since millions of Ukrainians who speak Russian as their first language "are not forbidden to use it in private settings". Which is not a consolation, because it's quite clear that the only reason it's not forbidden yet is that such a ban is impossible to implement at the time. The government is making baby steps in this direction, though, first forbidding airing Russian songs on radio in certain regions, then forbidding demonstrating foreign films dubbed in Russian in theaters, despite many people in Russian speaking regions being openly against it (in my native city 75% of movie theaters broke because of that), and generally excluding Russian from wherever possible.

    Also the statistics about ratio between Russian and Ukrainian speaking citizens is not fully objective, since questionnaires usually look like "What's your native language?" instead of "What language do you speak at home?" (or similar question). Many respondents see it as a question about their ethnicity, so ethnic Ukrainians usually answer "Ukrainian" regardless of their actual native/primary language.
    Crocodile and it-ogo like this.

  13. #13
    Hanna
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    especially if those countries are oriented towards European values, which arw`to
    I just want to point out that modern "European values" includes respecting minority languages. All long time EU member states adhere to this - it's a big, big deal, for the precise reason that the effects of ignoring peoples' language preferences, or generally imposing a different language on people has caused so much problems and resentment in the past. If you move past that and let people choose for themselves, they will not feel pressured or resentful and they will end up with a lot more respect for a state that respects them. The Russian speakers might well choose to speak Ukrainian by their own device if they are let be rather than forced into it - which I believe would cause a backlash.

    In Odessa, I saw some pro-Russian language provocative t-shirts and hats sold. There'd be no need for that in France, Spain, Italy, Finland where the minority languages are respected without throwing history etc in the face of people. They did not choose their mothertongue!

    If you take Switzerland for example - because everyone's language is treated with respect, they usually end up bi or tri-lingual and feeling positive about all 3 languages. Same thing in Finland where the bilingual status is something most people are pleased and proud of.

    For some reason Eastern Europe (not just the ex-USSR) doesn't seem to be interested in taking on these particular values. It is particularly clear when it comes to how Russian speakers are treated. Why the EU turns a blind eye to the situation in Latvia is an interesting question... Had something like this been going on in Germany, France or the UK it would be totally unacceptable to everyone involved. There are endless laws both at EU and state level to protect peoples right to use their local language in their local area.

    I am not one to preach at others but I just don't get why it's such an issue to respect minority languages in Eastern Europe. Other countries in Europe take pride in it. For what it's worth - this seems to be a problem in several other parts of Eastern Europe, since plenty of people ended up on the "wrong" side of a border during the 20th century wars. These are not immigrants or occupiers - they were born there, and have always lived there.

    I don't know to what degree the Russian Federation respects minority languages within its own borders, but I have a vague notion that it DOES in fact support a bilingual situation in areas that have another language.
    gRomoZeka likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    For some reason Eastern Europe (not just the ex-USSR) doesn't seem to be interested in taking on these particular values.
    because these nations are trying to establish themselves, or regain their footing, a process which Western Europe went through 100 some years ago
    with these particular values Arabic has all the chances to soon become the second language in a number of Western European countries

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    It is particularly clear when it comes to how Russian speakers are treated.
    what do you mean, Hanna?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I am not one to preach at others but I just don't get why it's such an issue to respect minority languages in Eastern Europe. Other countries in Europe take pride in it. For what it's worth - this seems to be a problem in several other parts of Eastern Europe, since plenty of people ended up on the "wrong" side of a border during the 20th century wars. These are not immigrants or occupiers - they were born there, and have always lived there.
    exactly so they've had no problem in learning the local language, it's taught in schools

    my mother tongue is Russian, but I don't need it to become the second state language, why? maybe because I know Ukrainian as well

    in any event the constitution guarantees language rights to all

    but in the Baltic states Russian population predominantly consists of occupiers and their descendants

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I don't know to what degree the Russian Federation respects minority languages within its own borders, but I have a vague notion that it DOES in fact support a bilingual situation in areas that have another language.
    Russian Federation is a federation therefore by its very design it must respect national languages of the federation members

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    Russian is the state language of the Russian Federation. It is mother tongue of 90% of citizens. On regional level dozens of other languages are officially recognized and used alongside Russian.

  16. #16
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by LXNDR View Post
    what do you mean, Hanna?
    The main example of this is the Baltic States where native Russian speakers are treated in a way that is totally unworthy of the EU, and nobody seems to care.
    If you compare the situation there with the situation in Finland which is very close to the Baltic States, is a farily "new" country and has not really had an easy ride either.... yet they are handling the situation tremendously much better than the Baltics. In Finland, the bilingual situation is mostly considered to be something positive.

    its aggressiveness Russian state has demonstrated in a recent armed conflict with Georgia
    There are two sides to this story as you well know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    The main example of this is the Baltic States where native Russian speakers are treated in a way that is totally unworthy of the EU, and nobody seems to care.
    If you compare the situation there with the situation in Finland which is very close to the Baltic States, is a farily "new" country and has not really had an easy ride either.... yet they are handling the situation tremendously much better than the Baltics. In Finland, the bilingual situation is mostly considered to be something positive.
    Finland luckily escaped the grim prospect of becoming another republic of the USSR through annexation, therefore with different background they can afford a more relaxed attitude

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    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by LXNDR View Post
    Finland luckily escaped the grim prospect of becoming another republic of the USSR through annexation, therefore with different background they can afford a more relaxed attitude
    I don't see the logic in this reasoning. It is not Russian, but Swedish that is the second language. Sweden occupied Finland for quite a long time and did its best to switch languages in the country during this period. After that, Finland was again occupied, by Russia until 1917. Yet, the Finns can put their history aside and look at the present, not the past, and the benefits of being a bilingual country. I don't think the Winter War or the proximity to the ex USSR has anything to do with their choice when it comes to language policy. Just common sense!

    but in the Baltic states Russian population predominantly consists of occupiers and their descendants

    I think that is highly debatable!


    From what I read, the Russians who moved to the Baltic states were workers who were told "There is a new factory, institute... whatever.... in Latvia (or wherever). You'll get this/that pay and a nice new flat - are you interested?" Understandably, some were.

    And for all that they were aware, the USSR had liberated the Baltic states, nothing else. From their perspective, I doubt that they felt they were participating in any occupation.

    I suppose some (a minority) were indeed occupiers, in that they were in the military. Most such people left there as soon as they could. I met a guy from this type of background in Belarus - his family essentially left everything behind and just cleared off to Minsk because they felt they were not welcome anymore. He felt a bit nostalgic about his lost childhood in Ventspils.

    And finally - when I was in Daugavpils, I saw something that really p-d me off:
    There was a huge EU sponsored project to restore an old fortress, which frankly seemed like nothing special to me. But right next to this fortress, in some apalling conditions, lived a pretty large community of ex Soviet military people. It was clear that they were totally impoverished, and likewise that the houses they lived in had not had any maintenance at all for the past 20 years. It was disgraceful! There is talk about how Belarus is a dictatorship and has no money - etc, etc - but I certainly saw nothing close to this in Belarus.

    I feel strongly that the EU money should be used to renovate these people's houses, rather than rebuild a stupid fortress - surely that is a lower priority! Those children could catch dangerous illnesses living in such squalor.

    And if Latvia or the EU won't step up to help these people, then frankly I think Russia has an obligation to do something - fix up their houses or offer them some kind of repatriation deal.

    Again in Liepaja, I saw a similar situation - an ex-Soviet military town (called Karosta) which was in terrible state of repair. It was as if these people were simply abandoned by everyone and unable to sort something out themselves. To add to the farce, the whole place was touted as a tourist attraction to Germans and Scandis, on the grounds of having been a famous naval base of the USSR. But it was a complete dump, apart from a very quaint orthodox church.

    Summary: The Russian speaking people in the Baltics, to a large extent are and were the lower strata of society - not conscious occupiers. IMHO!

    Nevertheless you are right that the situations are not identical, and Latvia did at least go to the trouble of having a referendum about the matter (even if the outcome was rather predictable, in light of the balance between the groups).

    But maybe a referendum might be something for the Ukraine to try, or what do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I don't see the logic in this reasoning. It is not Russian, but Swedish that is the second language. Sweden occupied Finland for quite a long time and did its best to switch languages in the country during this period. After that, Finland was again occupied, by Russia until 1917. Yet, the Finns can put their history aside and look at the present, not the past, and the benefits of being a bilingual country. I don't think the Winter War or the proximity to the ex USSR has anything to do with their choice when it comes to language policy. Just common sense!
    you can count the years of Finnish independence and compare the number to that of the Baltic states or other former soviet republics

    usually it's very difficult and imprudent to put the history aside when it very much affects the present day and when the wounds haven't yet healed

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    But maybe a referendum might be something for the Ukraine to try, or what do you think?
    as I said earlier constitutional reform is the only legal way to resolve this debate, so if a referendum on such reform is introduced I can't oppose that, I only know how I will vote should that happen

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    Quote Originally Posted by LXNDR View Post
    Russian Federation is a federation therefore by its very design it must respect national languages of the federation members
    That's the main fault of Russia. We just had to abandon the federation...
    The alnguage policy is very tough in France as far as I know. They have practically destroyed other languages and dialects.

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