Russian-speaking Ukrainians are looking for loopholes, but their rights are still violated

From September 1, 2020, all Russian-language schools in Ukraine have been translated into the Ukrainian language of instruction. Klymenko Time figured out the transition process and the accompanying circumstances.

What the legislation says

According to the Law of Ukraine «On Complete Secondary Education», the language of the educational process in Ukraine is the state language, and persons who belong to indigenous peoples or national minorities are provided with the right to learn their native language in secondary education institutions or through national cultural societies. At the same time, persons who receive education in languages ​​other than the languages ​​of the EU countries must receive school education in Ukrainian from grade 5 in the amount of at least 80%. For the languages ​​of the EU countries, this norm was at least 20% in grade 5 with an annual increase to at least 40% in grade 9.

According to the Education Act (Section XII, paragraphs 18 and 19), education in a native language that does not belong to the languages of the EU countries, children in schools could receive until September 1, 2020, will be able to study in their native language until September 1, 2023. That is, there is a Ukrainianization of general secondary education to the detriment of the rights of national minorities. It will be possible to study only the native language and literature in the language of a national minority — no more than 20%

And in Art. 7 indicates that one or several disciplines can be taught in educational institutions in two or more languages ​​- only in the state language, English or the languages ​​of the EU countries. At the same time, the state promotes the study of languages ​​of international communication, first of all — English. And this despite the fact that Russian is the language of international communication: for example, the UN has 6 working languages, including Russian. For this reason, it can be assumed that the functioning of this law is primarily aimed at eradicating the Russian language from the Ukrainian linguistic space — in favor of English.

And on September 1, 2020, Maxim Buzhansky’s bill No. 2362 on the postponement of the transition of Russian schools to the Ukrainian language for three years was removed from consideration.

Why is this done?

Currently, Ukraine is included in the sphere of influence of Western countries, and first of all, the United States. The geopolitical reorientation of the country began with a reorientation of the political elites and legislation, including the consolidation of the course towards joining the EU and NATO in the Constitution of Ukraine.

However, a significant part of society remains against such a reorientation, and within the framework of Ukraine’s deeper integration into the Western information space, Ukrainians are gradually switching to the consumption of Ukrainian and Western information products. It is for this purpose that Russian TV channels, social networks and books were banned in the country, but the process is hampered by the general availability of information on the Internet.

The next stage was the educational reform, the main goal of which is to reduce the number of people who speak Russian and are used to consuming Russian-language information products. In theory, after the generations who study Ukrainian and English grow up, there will be far fewer people in Ukraine who choose Russian-language sources, which means that ideological integration with Western countries will be more successful.

International organizations condemned the language policy of Ukraine

On December 8, 2017, the Venice Commission noted that “by reducing the volume of education in the languages ​​of national minorities, [Article 7 of the Education Law] has provoked justified criticism and protests both at the domestic and international levels. In addition, this article does not ensure compliance with the key principles necessary for the implementation of the framework law in the context of the country’s international and constitutional obligations. ” In the conclusion, the Commission noted that the Law «On Education» can lead Ukrainian education to a system focused on the compulsory use of Ukrainian as the language of instruction, which will lead to a serious decrease in the opportunities provided to persons belonging to national minorities to study in their languages, which constitutes a disproportionate interference with the existing rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

In October 2017, PACE expressed concern about the articles of the Law «On Education» concerning teaching in the languages ​​of national minorities, indicating that a balance was not maintained between the state language and the languages ​​of national minorities.

On December 6, 2019, the Venice Commission ruled that Ukraine urgently needs to prepare a law on the protection of the languages ​​of national minorities, otherwise the law on the state language creates conditions for discrimination against national minorities.

As you can see, none of these recommendations have been implemented.

Every fourth Ukrainian speaks Russian at home

According to the results of a survey conducted by the sociological group “Rating” on July 30-31, 2020, 49% of respondents speak Ukrainian at home, 25% — in Russian, 25% — in both Russian and Ukrainian.

These results are quite consistent with the results of the 2001 population census, according to which 29.59% of Ukrainians named Russian as their native language. And given that this poll was not conducted in some of the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine due to their status of non-control (in Crimea and in SADLR (Selected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions)), it can be assumed that the number of the Russian-speaking population in the country, on the contrary, has grown. That is, the demand for training in Russian is also extremely high.

Schools with Russian language of instruction became less and less

A significant decrease in the number of schools with Russian as the language of instruction occurred in 2014 — after the annexation of Crimea and the loss of control over SADLR (Selected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions) . At the same time, from 2014 to 2020, the number of schools with Russian as the language of instruction decreased 5 times — due to the adoption of the law «On Education». And now, after the entry into force of the educational law, there will be no such schools at all.

And this despite the fact that in the 2019-2020 academic year more than 280 thousand people studied in Russian, whose language rights will now be violated.


According to the legislation, it is possible to create classes with teaching in the languages ​​of national minorities in primary school, if a sufficient number of applications from parents are collected for this, while the transition to 80% education in Ukrainian is expected from grade 5 — only native language and literature.

According to media reports, some Russian-language schools have taken advantage of this norm and are recruiting first-graders into Russian-language classes. It is likely that some schools will ignore the law — both for political reasons, and for reasons of a short transition period and lack of advanced training for teachers to work in the new environment.

However, this does not solve the issue of teaching in the native language for Russian-speaking Ukrainians in general, and is also only an adaptation to the discriminatory norms recognized by international organizations.

Eva Antonenko, klymenko-time

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