Regions Support Grows After Language Law

KIEV, Ukraine -- Support for the ruling Regions Party increased in August after the approval of legislation allowing wider use of the Russian language across Ukraine, an opinion poll shows.

Hanna Herman

The opposition Batkivshchyna party trailed behind with its rating unchanged over the past two months in a major setback for the group ahead of the October 28 parliamentary election.

A strong performance by Batkivshchyna may be required to put political pressure on the authorities to secure the release of its leader, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, from jail.

The Regions Party, President Viktor Yanukovych’s group, increased popular support to 28.1% from 27.6% two months ago, according to the poll conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Center and by the Razumkov Center.

Batkivshchyna’s support was unchanged at 25.6%, the center reported.

The Regions Party benefited from growing support among eastern and southern regions of Ukraine that are mostly using the Russian language for communication.

“The East has persuaded the ruling party that the Russian language is important for them,” Hanna Herman, an advisor to Yanukovych, said.

“The people that backed Yanukovych for president had called for the Russian language. That was the message.”

Other groups that may enter Parliament in October include the opposition Udar party, led by heavyweight world boxing champion Vitaliy Klichko, and the Communist Party.

Udar’s support rose to 11.5% in August from 9.7% in June, while the Communist Party’s rating rose to 8.2% from 7.1%, according to the poll.

The Forward Ukraine party, which is thought to be loyal to the government and has recently recruited soccer striker Andriy Shevchenko, lost to 4% from 4.6%, while the nationalist Svoboda party gained to 3.8% from 3.1%, according to the poll.

A party needs to score at least 5% in order to win seats in Parliament.

The poll was conducted between August 10 and August 15 among 2,009 respondents with margin of error at 2.3%.

The legislation was approved on July 31 and allowed regions to approve the use of Russian as a regional language if it gets support of at least 10% in a given region, allowing the language to be used in schools, courts and local governments.

Yanukovych signed the legislation on August 8.

The legislation was widely seen as aimed at energizing the Regions Party’s electoral base in the eastern and southern regions ahead of the October elections.

Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Odessa, Luhansk and Kherson regions, as well as cities of Odessa, Sevastopol, Kharkiv, Mykolayiv and Izmail, have voted to approve the use of the Russian language.

Yanukovych used Russian on August 22 to address the people in Kharkiv while opening a monument dedicated to Ukraine’s independence at the city’s downtown square.

He said he “always” speaks the language of the people that live in the region.

The opposition groups denounced the legislation amid fears it would split Ukraine by languages and weaken the country pushing it towards Russia.

Source: Ukrainian Journal

Comments

Ricardo said…
Shall we use English to communicate with Russians? I wonder
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