The situation in respect of the rights and legitimate interests of various national communities living in Ukraine remains unsatisfactory. Monitoring of the information space in the period from January 1 to January 31, 2022 allows us to identify a number of facts, trends and problems in this area.
Right-wing radical forces have become active again in Ukraine. So, on January 1, 2022, a torchlight procession was held in Kiev on the occasion of the next anniversary of the birth of one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Stepan Bandera. This street action was organized by right-wing radical organizations. The marchers carried an anti-Semitic banner and repeatedly shouted nationalist and xenophobic slogans.
January 16 of this year a new discriminatory provision of the language law has come into force, according to which all national print media in the country must be published only in the Ukrainian language. The law also prohibits advertising in the press in any language other than Ukrainian.
Violations of the rights of various national communities to cultural identity, historical memory, and the free use of their native language in all spheres of life continued. The National Council of Ukraine for Television and Radio Broadcasting has announced that it is conducting inspections on Ukrainian TV channels due to Russian-language content that was shown on New Year’s Eve.
In addition, regular acts of vandalism of an anti-Semitic nature were recorded. In the city of Lisichansk, for the second time in two months, a monument to the victims of the Jewish population who died in the city during the Nazi occupation during World War II was destroyed.
1. Manifestations of right-wing radicalism, glorification of Nazism and collaborators of Nazi Germany. Manifestations of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hate speech in public space
On January 1, 2022, a torchlight procession was held in Kiev on the occasion of the 113th anniversary of the birth of one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Stepan Bandera. The torchlight procession was led by activists of the nationalist Svoboda Party and other right-wing radical organizations, as well as representatives of the so-called «Orthodox Church of Ukraine».
The main poster of the march featured a flaming Kremlin, with a portrait of Bandera in the background. The participants of the march also brought a placard calling for a «Nuremberg-2 over Jewish-Moscow communism».
During the march, participants shouted nationalist slogans. «Glory to Ukraine-Glory to the Heroes», «Remember the stranger-the Ukrainian is the owner here», etc.
The torchlight procession passed along Khreshchatyk (the central street of Kiev) and ended near the President’s Office. About a thousand people took part in the torchlight procession. (https://strana.today/news/369824-marsh-bandery-v-kieve-2022-video.html, https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/01/1/7319233/, https://korrespondent.net/city/kiev/4433624-v-kyeve-prokhodyt-marsh-v-chest-stepana-bandery, http://pravua.info/uchastnik-shestviya-v-chest-bandery-potreboval-nyurnberga-2-nad-zhidovsko-moskovskim-kommunizmom/)
The Israeli Embassy in Ukraine has condemned anti-Semitic demonstrations during the march dedicated to the birthday of OUN leader Stepan Bandera. This is stated in the message of the diplomatic department on the page in Twitter.
«Israel condemns the nationalist march in honor of Bandera. The glorification of those who supported the Nazi ideology desecrates the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Ukraine. We demand an investigation of anti-Semitic manifestations that took place during the march under the law adopted in 2021,» the embassy said in a statement. (https://korrespondent.net/ukraine/4433713-yzrayl-osudyl-marsh-v-chest-bandery)
On January 3, head of the Ukrainian volunteer Army Dmytro Yarosh (formerly a leader of the right-wing radical organization «Right Sector») posted on his Facebook page a post in which he called the Israeli Ambassador to Kiev, Michael Brodsky, «an agent of the Kremlin’s influence.»
«The Israeli ambassador is an agent of the Kremlin’s influence. It is necessary to drive such «diplomats» out of Ukraine!», — Yarosh wrote on his Facebook page.
The former leader of the Right Sector did not say anything about the reasons for his hostility to the Israeli ambassador. However, it is known that on the eve of the Israeli Embassy issued a statement condemning the torchlight procession in honor of the 113th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, which is held annually on January 1 in the regions of Ukraine. Moreover, the embassy demanded an investigation into anti-Semitic manifestations in Ukraine, considering Bandera’s admirers to be adherents of Nazi ideology. (https://focus.ua/politics/502329-gnat-takih-nuzhno-yarosh-nazval-posla-izrailya-agentom-kremlya)
The director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky, called Yarosh’s statement an » anti-Semitic message.»
«Yarosh does not like the envoy of the Jewish state, as he condemned the march in honor of Bandera. In his post, Yarosh divided Jews into good Bandera fans who are «on the Ukrainian side» and bad ones who do not honor their murderers — he did not mention them at all.
Yarosh’s statement is not just a post by some activist, it is an ominous anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli message, pressure and threat to Jews from a person who commands a large group of armed men.
This is a Judeophobic division of Jews into bad and good: a good Jew should love his murderers. A Jew who does not like Bandera and Shukhevych is an enemy and an agent of the Kremlin, he should be driven out.
Yarosh is well aware that the statement of the Israeli Ambassador is not a statement of an individual, but the position of the State of Israel. Therefore, the demand to expel the ambassador is a slap in the face of Israel and the Jews of Ukraine! » (https://strana.today/opinions/370365-jarosh-razdelil-evreev-na-plokhikh-i-khoroshikh-po-ikh-otnosheniju-k-bandere.html)
January 3 of this yearThe Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Ukraine sent a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine with condemnation torchlight procession in honor of S.Bandera’s birthday the OUN leader of which was held in Kiev on January 1. The note states that the hearts of Belarusians who survived the horrors of the fascist occupation and the tragedy of genocide during the Great Patriotic War are filled with excruciating pain by outrageous attempts to glorify collaborators, murderers and punishers of the Belarusian people. The fact that the ideological heirs of the bloody executioners of Khatyn and thousands of other Belarusian towns and villages honor their «heroes»with impunity is nothing more than an insult to the memory of our ancestors who fell in the mortal battle for the freedom and independence of the Belarusian people.
The Embassy expresses its strong protest against the growing radicalization of Ukraine’s anti-Belarusian position, which is expressed in condoning demonstrative honoring of collaborators and executioners of the Belarusian people, and demands to stop attempts to glorify crimes against humanity that have no statute of limitations and cannot be forgiven by the Belarusian people. (https://ukraine.mfa.gov.by/ru/embassy/news/d17ff7ff2da83054.html)
In Kiev, in the Desnyansky district, the tram station «General Vatutin «was renamed and named in honor of one of the leaders of the OUN, the» commander-in-chief » of the UPA Roman Shukhevych.
This is stated in Order No. N-2 of January 4, 2022 of the Director of the Department of Transport Infrastructure of the KSCA Ruslan Kandibor.
«Rename the stop» General Vatutin Station «on public bus routes in normal traffic mode№№27, 73, 100, 101, 114 and trolleybus routes No. 29, 30, 31, 47 to the Roman Shukhevych Station stop in both directions,» the order says.
Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Eduard Dolinsky responded to the change in the name of the tram station in his social networks.
«In Kiev, the tram station named after the war hero, fighter against Nazism General Vatutin was renamed in honor of the hauptman of the Nazi Schutzmannschaft Roman Shukhevych», – he wrote it. (https://strana.today/news/372187-v-kieve-tramvajnuju-stantsiju-nazvali-v-chest-romana-shukhevicha.html)
Roman Shukhevych actively collaborated with Nazi Germany in 1939-1942: he studied at the secret Abwehr school, served in German armed units, was a deputy commander in the Abwehr Nachtigall special unit with the rank of Hauptmann (captain), and from November 1941 deputy commander of the 201st Schutzmannschaft battalion, a German unit subordinate to the SS. According to the Israeli Yad Vashem Center for Holocaust Studies, the center’s archives have preserved a selection of documents obtained from German and Soviet sources that indicate the involvement of the Nachtigall battalion under the command of Shukhevych joined punitive operations against the civilian population of Lviv in the summer of 1941.
2. Changes in national legislation and local rulemaking affecting the interests of national communities
On January 16, 2022, a new provision of the law on language came into force in Ukraine. From this day on, the country’s national print media must be published in Ukrainian.
At the same time, they can be published in other languages, but in parallel they must be published in the same edition in Ukrainian. However, the content, volume, and printing method must be the same in both versions. They must also have the same numbering and be published on the same day.
The law prohibits advertising in the press in any language other than Ukrainian.
Exceptions are English, official EU languages, and indigenous languages. The Russian language does not fall under any of these criteria. Thus, if the law is not changed, then from January 2022 the national Russian – language press will disappear, and from July 2024-the local one.
Also, an exception is made only for regional media, which will be required to switch to the Ukrainian language from July 2024.
For violators, a fine is provided from 400 to 500 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (6,8-8,5 thousand hryvnias). Repeated violation during the year provides for a fine of 500 to 700 non-taxable minimums (8,5-11,9 thousand hryvnias). However, the language Ombudsman will be able to bring violators to administrative responsibility only from July 16, 2022. (https://strana.news/news/371848-v-ukraine-vstupila-v-silu-totalnaja-ukrainizatsija-pechatnykh-smi.html)
On January 23, the Commissioner for the Protection of the state Language Taras Kremin commented on the entry into force of a new norm of the language law, which concerns the work of the media, on the air of the Ukraine 24 channel.
According to him, mass media that repeatedly violate the new norm of the language law will face a fine. Kremin reminded that the maximum fine is 500 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (the non-taxable minimum is set at the level of 1240,50 UAH).
«The law stipulates that state control measures must first be carried out. If several violations are recorded during the year, this is a fine of 400 to 500 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens, » Kremin said. (https://vesti.ua/strana/novye-normy-yazykovogo-zakona-ombudsmen-rasskazal-chto-grozit-za-narusheniya)
In connection with the entry into force of the new provision of the law on the state language, the political party «Opposition Platform – For Life» issued a statement in which it called the destruction of Russian-language print media discrimination and humiliation of millions of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine.
«At the elections, Vladimir Zelensky and the servants of the people promised that the unconstitutional policy of discrimination against millions of Russian and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, initiated by the Poroshenko regime, would be stopped. Laws restricting the cultural and linguistic rights of representatives of national communities will be reviewed. But not a single promise was fulfilled. The humiliation and discrimination against the rights of millions of people continues and intensifies.
As of today, new norms of the language law that discriminates against the rights of Russian-speaking citizens and representatives of other national communities come into force in Ukraine. Now every print media outlet that is published in a different language must be published in the same edition and in the same volume, in Ukrainian. At the same time, advertising in the press in any languages other than Ukrainian, English or EU languages is prohibited. This provision will make the publication of mass media in Russian unprofitable, and obtaining information in their native language for Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine impossible.
Completely forgetting why people supported it, the new government passes laws that restrict the rights of Russian-speaking children to receive education in their native language. Russians are removed from the list of indigenous peoples. The Language Ombudsman openly threatens to «send to other regions» those who do not like the dictatorial language policy of the authorities. And now the main agents of this anti-democratic, repressive policy are Vladimir Zelensky and his «servants».
The OPPOSITION PLATFORM-FOR LIFE demands to review the language legislation and stop discrimination against the cultural, linguistic and educational rights of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine and representatives of other national communities. Ensure strict compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine (including Part 3 of Article 10), which guarantees the free development, use and protection of the Russian language and other languages of national minorities.
We believe that ensuring human and civil rights, equality and dialogue of languages and cultures are the only way to restore peace and guarantee the development of Ukraine. The policy of humiliation and discrimination must end, » the OPPFLsaid in a statement. (https://zagittya.com.ua/news/zajavlenija/unichtozhenie_russkojazychnyh_pechatnyh_smi_l_diskriminacija_i_unizhenie_millionov_russkojazychnyh_grazhdan_ukrainy_.html)
3. Violations of the rights to cultural identity, historical memory, and the free use of the native language in all spheres of life
The National Council of Ukraine for Television and Radio Broadcasting will conduct inspections on Ukrainian channels due to the abundance of Russian-language content on New Year’s Eve. This was discussed at the online meeting of the National Council on January 13.
«We are disappointed and seriously outraged by so much Russian-language content during the New Year holidays. And this is the position of not only the National Council. We haven’t received so much discontent from viewers and complaints for a long time,» said Maxim Onoprienko, a member of the council.
Specific TV channels will be named later, when the National Council will conduct extensive and thorough monitoring, check all the figures, and translate the language content into percentages.
«All signs of violations will definitely be made public and considered during the next meetings, and the National Council will take appropriate measures,» Onoprienko promised.
The head of the National Council Olga Gerasimyuk noted that it would be interesting to learn from the management of channels on what basis they allow a large number of Russian-language programs and films on their airs. (https://vesti.ua/strana/natssovet-pugaet-telekanaly-merami-za-russkij-yazyk-v-novogodnem-efire)
4. Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism
In the city of Lysychansk, located in the Luhansk region, for the second time in two months, a monument to the victims of the Jewish population who died in the city during the Nazi occupation during World War II was destroyed.
This was announced on January 18, 2022 by the press service of the military-civil administration of Lisichansk.
«The Lisichansk city military and Civil Administration informs that the memorial sign to the victims of the Jewish population who died in the city of Lisichansk during World War II, located at the city cemetery «Green Grove», was again destroyed, » the report says.
It is noteworthy that this monument was already destroyed in early December last year, but for the money of not indifferent citizens, a new monument was made and installed. Now unknown people have destroyed it as well.
A memorial was erected in 2013 near the «Durny Yar» beam in memory of the people killed here. The occupation of Lisichansk lasted from 1942 to 1943. During this time, the Germans shot about 800 local residents.
69 people were shot and thrown into the «Durny Yar» gully in January 1943, that is, before the Nazis retreated.
It is worth noting that the «action» of vandals occurred on the eve of a significant date. Exactly 80 years ago, at the Wannsee Conference (January 20, 1942, Berlin), the Nazi leadership adopted a program for the extermination of the Jewish population of Europe (the so-called «final solution of the Jewish question»).
Vandals are still being sought. (https://strana.today/news/372429-v-luhanskoj-oblasti-razrushili-pamjatnik-zhertvam-evrejskoho-naselenija-foto.html)