On Tuesday, July 7, the Constitutional Court began to consider the abolition of the controversial language law, which ex-President Petro Poroshenko signed a few days before the end of his powers. The lawsuit was filed by a group of deputies in the previous parliament. Russian-speaking politicians, journalists, writers and celebrities argue that this law forcibly Ukrainianizes all spheres of public life. This, they said, violates democratic norms in the country. Shortly before the start of the consideration of the law in the Constitutional Court, the head of the NSDC, Aleksey Danilov, said that the language issue is of fundamental importance for the country. He ruled out the possibility that Russian would be considered the second state.
The Constitutional Court has the power to revoke either the entire law or some of its provisions, at least those recommended by the Venice Commission. This meeting could help Zelenskiy partially smooth out the controversial issues regarding the language, but in court, the presidential representative Fyodor Venislavsky said that there were no grounds for repealing the law and there were no.
Vesti.ua figured out what is wrong with the law, whether it will be canceled in the Constitutional Court and why Zelensky does not want to make concessions on the language issue.
What’s wrong with the law?
They wanted to repeal the law even before it even came into force. A month after the vote, deputies from the OPFL and Opposition Bloc filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court. They argue that the document violates the Constitution, namely the 10th and 11th Articles — on the free development and protection of the languages of national minorities and on the duty of the state to promote the development of the Ukrainian nation, which, among other things, implies the development of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity. all indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine. Thus, according to the deputies, the rights of Ukrainians and the main articles of the Constitution are violated.
The authors of the lawsuit, based on the provisions of the Constitution, concluded that the law voted for in 2019 is unconstitutional and creates an atmosphere of intolerance and discrimination.
Apart from politicians and public figures who defend the rights of the Russian-speaking population, other national minorities of Ukraine, including the Hungarians of Transcarpathia, also opposed the law. Immediately after the signing of the law, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry demanded that Zelensky solve the problem, because the law on the Ukrainian language “contradicts the international obligations” of our country. But that is not all. The EU also made a number of claims to the document — in December 2019, the document was sent to the Venice Commission. There were so many comments and recommendations to the language law that they were even put into a separate section of “conclusions”, because it became very large. To a greater extent, the claims relate to articles on media, tourism and education.
Who is in favor and who is against the law?
Traditionally, representatives of the party of ex-president Petro Poroshenko, who, by the way, called himself “Russian-speaking in everyday life”, spoke out against the changes in the language law. The former guarantor states that the language law «is fully in line with the Constitution and respects the rights of the people.»
“Revanchists attack him (Ukrainian, — Vesti.ua) through the Constitutional Court. At the head of the attack on the Ukrainian language — OPFL. They are helped by some Servants of the People with a high concentration of ideological glass wool, ”Poroshenko said.
In parallel, before the start of the consideration of the claim in court, Poroshenko’s associates began to protest. On Monday, July 6, a rally was held in Ivano-Frankivsk under the auspices of Poroshenko’s presidential slogans. Already today, the Frankivsk deputies arrived at the CCU — they held posters with the words «Ukrainian is the only state language» and «When a language dies, a nation dies.» Interestingly, repealing the law could also strengthen Poroshenko’s ratings in his electoral areas, that is, in the West.
The day before the start of the debate about the language, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov also spoke out — he believes that the preservation of the Ukrainian language as the only state language is fundamentally important for the country. According to the official, giving any status to Russian is impossible, and Ukrainians should learn English as a second language.
At the same time, other government officials close to Zelensky argue that the law needs to be changed. Rada Speaker Dmitry Razumkov stated that the document should be revised taking into account the positions of all citizens of Ukraine.
“If we are talking about how this or that law should look like, it should suit the citizens of Ukraine, regardless of where they live and what language they speak,” Razumkov said.
Many MPs from the mono-majority are in favor of repealing the law. MP Max Buzhansky wrote that the document is «an attempt to re-elect Poroshenko for a second term.» He recalled that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out against this law.
“The current law does not protect our Ukrainian language in any way; it directly infringes upon the rights of speakers of other languages. I hope the Constitutional Court will give a quick and categorical assessment of this, ”Buzhansky said. Note that in December 2019, he prepared a bill to abolish the language law — he was supported by his comrades-in-arms from the Servant of the People and deputies from the OPFL, but in June the committee did not support this bill.
Why is Zelensky repeating Poroshenko’s mistakes?
The debates in the Constitutional Court took place on July 7 and will continue on July 9, however, according to sources in the Constitutional Court, the consideration of the issue will drag on for more than one week. Already during the first meeting, an indirect reaction of Zelensky appeared — the presidential representative Fyodor Venislavsky said that there were no grounds for canceling it, and stressed that he represented the position of the guarantor. He called the appeal of the deputies to the court regarding the unconstitutionality of this law artificial.
At the same time, it is not yet known what the decision of the CCU will be, however, political scientists and experts argue that whatever it is, it will be closely associated with Zelensky — after all, the question is political. The abolition of the language law or its most controversial articles will in fact be an indirect fulfillment of Zelensky’s election promise to revise the “total Ukrainization” in the country. At the same time, the president will be, as it were, aloof from the whole process. The cancellation of this law could also contribute to raising the rating of his party in the territory with the largest electoral core of the Servant of the People — in the southeast of the country. This would be especially useful before the local elections.
As political analyst Alexander Lazarev told Vesti.ua, Zelensky, with his immobility in solving the language issue, shows a desire to «sit on all existing chairs.»
“He is the ideological successor of Poroshenko’s affairs. And this can be seen in domestic politics, in rhetoric. Why is he in no hurry to repeal the law? He just wants to sit on all the chairs at once, not to take over any position. This situation will lead to a drop in ratings in the southeast, because he came to power as a bilingualist, he even swore an oath in two languages, ”the political scientist says. According to him, the abolition of this law could help the ratings of Zelensky and the mono-majority.
How the trial will end is still unknown. But, judging by the fact that the authorities have been looking for a language ombudsman for several months (the presence of such a position is one of the fundamental articles of the scandalous law), the CCU will not completely abolish the document.
Marina Yakovenko, Vesti