The incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko has signed the law on provision of the functioning of the Ukrainian as the state language. The signing ceremony was broadcast by all central Ukrainian TV channels.
Poroshenko said he had the “greatest honor and a unique opportunity to sign the law on provision of the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language,” adding the signature “is one of the most important acts for the formation of Ukrainian statehood” since the language is the platform and foundation on which the state is being built.
“I emphasize that this law does not affect the languages of national minorities living in Ukraine,” Poroshenko said. “…The only thought we did not intend to take into account was Moscow’s opinion. Let them do with Russian” he added.
“Very few issues are as fundamental to a person’s identity as their native language. Challenging this may provoke a defensive response. History teaches us that any such attempts often end badly” warned Lamberto Zannier, High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE.
Although Ukraine is officially aiming the European Union integration de facto Poroshehnko opposed the European values, namely the linguistic rights of the minorities. At present 23 official and 60 regional languages are practiced on the EU territory.
“In Europe, linguistic diversity is a fact of life. Languages are an integral part of European identity and the most direct expression of culture. In an EU founded on the motto ‘United in diversity’, the ability to communicate in several languages is an important asset for individuals, organisations and companies. Languages not only play a key role in the everyday life of the European Union, but are also fundamental for respecting cultural and linguistic diversity in the EU” the European Commission explains.
In Ukraine the case of attempts to introduce bilingualism or multilingualism, or to grant official status to any other language in the whole country or in a separate region, this equates to overthrowing the constitutional order. You can get up to 10 years in prison for this in accordance with section 109 of the Penal Code.
Here is the list of ten top changes language law imposes on the citizens of Ukraine:
1. The only state and official language in Ukraine is Ukrainian. Public disrespect and ignoring the law is equated with the abuse of state symbols: from a fine of up to 6.800 hryvnia up to imprisonment up to 3 years.
2. All the representatives of the central executive bodies of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, deputies, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, medical workers, and teachers must have proficiency of the Ukrainian language. All meetings, events, working communication in government bodies, including Crimea, in state and municipal events should be held in Ukrainian. If the event organizers deems it necessary to apply another language, they must ensure it “provides a translation into the state language”.
3. Language requirements for members of the government, high-ranking officials, and people’s deputies will be determined by the National Commission for Standards of the State Language, and the Ukrainian Language Center will test them for compliance. In addition to these two new institutions, the Terminology Center of the Ukrainian language will be created. One of its tasks is the “development of the standards of the Ukrainian sign language.”
4. In public kindergartens, the language of instruction is Ukrainian, in private there may be other options, however Ukrainian language should be present. As for universities, the teaching should be conducted in Ukrainian, but lectures in one of the EU languages are allowed. That is, Chinese and Yiddish, as follows from the text, are banned on a par with Russian.
5. In theaters, cinemas should sound the Ukrainian language. Performances and films in a foreign language must be accompanied by subtitles. “Cinemas can show foreign films in the original language, accompanying the subtitling in Ukrainian. The total number of showcases of such films cannot exceed 10% of the total number of showcases of films in a cinema a month,” the bill said.
6. Mass media is also switching to the Ukrainian language. If, say, your favorite newspapers or magazines were printed in Russian, then after the law came into force, they should have half the circulation of the Ukrainian version. The total duration of foreign language television and radio programs and broadcasts may not exceed 10% of the daily broadcasting time for national broadcasters, and 20% for regional and local broadcasters.
7. In bookstores should be on the shelves at least 50% of the products in the Ukrainian language.
8. A language ombudsman is becoming a leading authority for complaints. The language inspector will get rights akin to a police officer. He will be able to request documents or their copies and other information, including those with limited access, to freely visit state authorities, enterprises and institutions regardless of their form of ownership, attend their meetings, receive documents or their copies and other information from civil associations upon request, political parties, legal entities of private law.
9. The draft law also provides for the creation of an institution of language inspectors, who will observe the purity of speech in their region. It is assumed that there should be 27 language inspectors.
10. All who wish to obtain Ukrainian citizenship must pass the exam on the knowledge of the Ukrainian language.