Tag Archives: minority rights

Poroshenko signs law criminalizing multilingualism

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 badlywarned 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.

 

Hungary considers Ukraine language law “unacceptable”

Péter Szijjártó, Hungary Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade called the Ukrainian language law voted on Thursday (April 25) “unacceptable“.  The law is violating the rights of the Hungarian national community and evokes the spirit of the outgoing President, Petro Porosenko, who pursued anti-Hungarian policy, Szijjártó said.

The Ukrainian voters however, by a large majority, elected another president – Volodymyr Zelensky – and ended the Porosenko era, noted Peter Szijjártó, who is currently with an official visit in Beijing.

We hope that, on the basis of mutual respect and with the intention to find a solution, we will be able to clarify with the overwhelmingly elected new president the situation following the laws affecting the rights of the Hungarian national community” the Minister said.

He added that the first statements of the new Ukrainian president could give hope, so after  Mr.Zelensky will enter in office, “we will do our utmost to restore the relationship between Ukraine and Hungary” to re-establish the earlier period when the two countries could express positive statements on their relationship.

Our goal is to be friends with Ukraine, and the latest Ukrainian presidential election results give us some hope,” said Péter Szijjártó to Hungarian news agency.

Image above: Péter Szijjártó (archive)

 

 

10 years of prison for bilingualism in Ukraine

The voted in the Ukrainian parliament law on official language (nr.5670)  significantly impacts the state policy in use of the Ukrainian, according to the authors ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language. It also proposed to fine officials, deputies, and other officials if they decline speaking the state language at work place. But the introduction of this responsibility  has been postpone for three years.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the law (nr.5670 leads to fines, and there is an annex, directly indicating that attempts to introduce bilingualism or multilingualism, or grant official status to any other language in the whole country or in a particular region, is considered to be an overthrowing the constitutional order. This crime is punished for long sentences, amounting to 10 years in prison in accordance with section 109 of the Criminal Code.

All citizens of Ukraine and all officials at workplace, including the president, the chairman of parliament and his deputies, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers, the heads of all ministries and public institutions, deputies, civil servants, officials of local authorities, judges and lawyers, teachers and health workers,  – all state offices are obliged to speak Ukrainian language exclusively. There are a few exceptions made to speak another language if the decision is consensual.

It is a law on forced, in fact, total Ukrainization. Its provisions provide for significant restrictions, and in many cases, direct bans on the use of the Russian language and minority languages in various spheres of public life” spokesperson of Russian Foreign Ministry Maria #Zakharova wrote in her Twitter micro blog.

As recorded in the 2001 census, the minority groups in Ukraine include Russians, BelarusiansMoldovans, Tatars, Bulgarians, Poles, Jews, Romanians, Armenians, Hungarians, Greeks,  Roma,  and other nationalities. While a subsequent census was supposed to be conducted in 2011, it has been repeatedly postponed and is now scheduled to take place in 2020.

 

Sami ask for UN protection from Russian hunting club

Sami, an indigenous people living in the Murmansk region, in north of Russia, appealed to the United Nations (UN) with a complaint against the actions of the regional government. Representatives of the Sami community complained about the transfer of the pasture lands of the state farm in a long-term lease to the Belgorod Hunting Club (BEZRK).

The management of the Olenevod state farm, specialized in reindeer, and the Sami Heritage and Development Fund state in their appeal underlined that the auction for the right to use the land was held without the consent of the indigenous population living compactly in this territory. As a result, the right to the free use of lands necessary for traditional farming, guaranteed by the Federal Law, was violated.

Sami accused officials of violating a number of articles of the International Convention on Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, writes Novaya Gazeta, specifying that the lands on the Ponoi River, where the reindeer migrate and where the wintering grounds for pregnant female moose are located, were transferred to the Belgorod hunting club “BEZRK” this winter.

Earlier Sami activists filed a similar complaint with the Russian presidential administration. They asked to keep the so-called “maternity hospital” for the Ponoi elks in the Lovozero in the Murmansk region, drawing the authorities’s attention to the fact that it would be destroyed by the transfer of land to the hunting club. However, local officials claim that there are no permits for the use of land by reindeer herders, no contracts have been concluded with them, and no official permits have been issued for reindeer herders on the disputed land plots. Having received zero aid from the administration of Vladimir Putin, the Sami decided to apply to the UN.

At present there is a hunting boom among Russian nouveaux riches who dramatically lack political, social and cultural sophistication, confusing killing of wild animals for noble occupation, contributing to upgrading their status. There are numerous avid hunters among members of Russian Duma, an also among Federation Council, reflecting interests of hunting lobby, led by senator – avid hunter Andrei Klishas. The situation explains the decision of the Sami community to address the United Nations because only very few would believe they could win against all-powerful hunting lobby, pursuing the interest  to kill the best of wildlife.

Saami or Sami, Laplanders, Kild are a small Finno-Ugric people,  living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The habitat of the Sami settlement stretches from the eastern tip of the Kola Peninsula through the north of Finland and Norway to the central part of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

The Sami, 1770 people  in 2010, have a clear national identity, their own flag and anthem, and their rights are represented by elected bodies of cultural self-government – the Sami parliaments.

The main occupations of the Sami have been reindeer herding, fishing, sea and land hunting.

Russian hunting club invasion into their territory is the second blow to Sami people after they suffered a defeat from Norway government in the end of March, deciding to move on with copper mine construction in their traditional habitat. The resolve came after years of Sami struggle in different fora.

Hungary searches solution for protecting minority rights in Ukraine

“We are interested in solution, not in a scandal, because we have 150 000 Hungarians in TransCarpathian region”, – said Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó . “We hope that we can come to a solution, that will not violate the rights of the minorities in Ukraine“. Szijjártó shared with Brussels press corps views of Hungarian government on the situation with the violation of minority language rights in Ukraine, while attending the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels this week.

The European values are the basis of the Hungarian position, namely the respect of minority rights. “First of all the decision of Venice Commission must be respected“, Szijjártó insists. Second, the dialogue between the Ukrainian government, and minorities should be established without delay, and the third request is to restrain from stripping minorities from the rights they have already been granted. Furthermore, the Hungarian government proposes a number of tactical steps to ensure the rights of the language minorities in the line of existing European norms. One of the priority measures could be the decision of the Ukrainian parliament to “postpone the implementation” of the law, depriving minorities of having education in their language, until 2023, and use this period to conduct negotiation with minorities.While launching the digalog, the Ukrainian authorities are expected to open the possibility for private and church school to conduct education in minority languages.
Minister expressed hope that “Ukranian friends” would accept the “requests” of the Hungarian government, searching to protect the minority rights in line with European norms and laws.

The exchange with Brussels press took place in the framework of the monthly European Foreign Affairs Council (28/05/2018), and ahead of the meeting between Minister Szijjártó and the US Secretary of State Pompeo, where is issue of the Hungarian minorities in Ukraine will be also discussed.