Legislation Seeks To Preserve Ukrainian

KIEV, Ukraine -- A new bill that was recently discussed with President Viktor Yanukovych may take steps to protect the use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine, a member of a working group said.

Raisa Bohatyriova

Pavlo Hrytsenko said Yanukovych has promised the bill will be voted in Parliament on September 27 to ease concerns over last month’s legislation that allowed a greater use of Russian.

“All this will be voted in Parliament on September 27,” Hrytsenko said in a recent interview with Channel 5. after the meeting with Yanukovych.

“This is what the President has publicly said.”

The working group led by Healthcare Minister Raisa Bohatyriova has been working on the bill to ease concerns among many figures that the legislation had been encouraging the use of Russian over Ukrainian.

The new bill would make it mandatory to use the Ukrainian language in armed forces, central and local governments, courts, science and education institutions, and advertising, according to Kommersant daily.

The bill will also increase to 75% the share of the Ukrainian language that media broadcasters are obliged to use, up from 25% currently, according to the report.

The bill also allows a city or community to allow greater use of any other ethnic language on a given territory if this ethnic group accounts for at least 30% of the overall population.

This would be an increase from 10% that had been anticipated by the legislation, approved on July 31, allowing a wider use of Russian in many Ukrainian regions over the past four weeks.

Yanukovych signed the legislation on August 8, but said it will be amended soon to ease the concerns among those who thought it would split Ukraine by languages spoken.

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.

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.

The legislation indeed helped to propel the Regions Party in the polls, giving it an edge over the main opposition Batkivshchyna party over the past month.

The Regions Party managed to increase 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.

Source: Ukrainian Journal