From January 16, 2021 — that is, exactly one month later — one of the most stringent norms of language law will come into force. The entire service sector will switch to Ukrainian. It will be possible to complain about the service in Russian — however, they will not be able to punish for this earlier than in a year and a half.
A month before the next round of Ukrainization, the Moving Ombudsman Taras Kremin specified which areas this would affect and what would be done with violators.
Interestingly, Kremin’s warnings were published on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers. That is, the entire government is in solidarity with the opinion of the observer.
Sorted out that they are going to Ukrainize in a month and whether it will work out.
From shops to hospitals
According to the law, all service providers, regardless of the form of ownership, will be required to serve consumers and provide information about goods and services in Ukrainian.
“In practice, this means that the Ukrainian consumer will finally have the right to be served in the state language by default — in a supermarket or an online store, in a cafe or restaurant, in a bank or pharmacy, at a gas station or at a train station, in a gym or library, and so on. like that. There are few exceptions: only at the request of a client, his personal service can be carried out in another language, acceptable to both parties, ”said Kremin.
True, the wording is controversial — the population of Ukraine, which massively speaks Russian, no one asked whether they needed such a right.
The Ombudsman added that the requirement for servicing in the state language applies not only to the sphere of trade. We are also talking about educational services, including circles and sections, medical care, the provision of social services, etc.
In general, any service.
For example, if a social worker or volunteer comes to a disabled person with humanitarian aid and is the first to speak Russian, he will break the law. The same goes for doctors.
Ukrainization of services is not only verbal communication, reminds Kremin. There should be information in Ukrainian on price tags, instructions, tickets, menus, etc. Moreover, it can be duplicated in other languages.
«Give a complaint book»
The Ombudsman for the Protection of the State Language has urged consumers to complain about violators since January 16 if they do not correct the situation in response to a request.
The website of the Cabinet of Ministers quotes Kremin’s words that information about the violation can be recorded in the book of complaints, which, according to the «sprechenfuehrer», is in the service sector.
“In case of violation of the right to receive information and services in Ukrainian, it is advisable for the consumer to record the violations in the book of complaints,” wrote Kremin.
Note that the Cabinet canceled the maintenance of the Book of Reviews and Suggestions back in 2019. And in 2020, the Ministry of Economy finally abolished the Books of Complaints, since entrepreneurs spent up to UAH 44 million a year on them, and this did not help to effectively solve the problem.
Now consumers can only complain about the quality of service to the State Food and Consumer Service — to the hotline, e-mail, via social networks. However, the Ombudsman did not specify whether it is necessary to apply there regarding the Russian language.
But Kremin advised to send complaints to his secretariat — in writing or by e-mail.
“At the same time, it is important to provide the most complete information about the business entity, the circumstances and evidence confirming the violations,” explained the Ombudsman. That is, in fact, Ukrainians are encouraged to record people who speak Russian on video.
Will the new bans be respected?
There is no talk of fines yet. Earlier we wrote that business will be fined from July 16, 2022, although the mechanism for punishing violators has already been spelled out.
It will work like this: the authorized person or his representative will draw up an act and announce a warning to the business entity. Within 30 days, he will have to eliminate the violation.
If, within a year, they are caught on another language violation, they will draw up a protocol and write out a decision on a fine (if desired, it will be possible to appeal it in court).
For the first time, the fine will be from 5100 to 6800 UAH. A repeated administrative violation within a year will result in a fine of UAH 8500 to 11 900.
But, given that there is still a year and a half before that, it is unlikely that Ukrainians will begin to massively switch to MOV when serving customers.
However, the question here is how actively the employees of the secretariat of the Ombudsman will start to «nightmare» the service sector. And also a variety of «activists».
As you can see, it is not the first time that Taras Kremin has called for a video with violations to be sent to him. That is, the authorities really rely more on those who will complain. Apparently, because the staff of the ombudsman’s secretariat is limited by the Cabinet of Ministers to 50 people. And this is hardly enough for mass checks.
One more question — with the evidence base. Will amateur videos be probative in court? There are huge doubts about this. And it is possible that in the future most of the movable fines will be canceled in court.
The bad news is that Kremin or his subordinates will be able to impose a fine without any trial — purely at their own discretion. And not to bear any responsibility if the court finds the collection illegal.
In the meantime, there are no such fines, the apparatus of the «sprechenfuehrer» will be able to work out a system for monitoring violations. And this will be an indicative period in terms of how many people in Ukraine are real who are ready to complain to the authorities about Russian-speaking people.
In this case, most likely, most of the acts of interpersonal communication will still take place in the client’s language. Since these are hundreds of thousands of communications a day, it is physically impossible to verify them. In addition, the law provides for the possibility of switching to the client’s language.
“Only at the request of the client, his personal service can be carried out in another language, acceptable to both parties,” Taras Kremin specified this point. Obviously, the use of Russian or English by the buyer is tantamount to such a request.
Especially if the client is a foreigner and does not understand Ukrainian at all. That is, if a shop assistant is addressed in Russian, he may well respond in the same language.