The Ukrainian authorities continue the policy of prohibitions and access limitations to information for country’s residents, traditionally explaining their actions with national interests and security. Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Irina Gerashchenko announced the blocking of access to websites covering events in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics not in accordance with the instructions from Kiev.
It seems that Ukraine really decided to take the first place in the ranking of countries with freedom of speech… from the end. Recently, the Verkhovna Rada approved a bill that obliges nation-wide channels to broadcast 75% of broadcasting programs in Ukrainian from 7:00 to 22:00. In addition, Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Groisman said that “the Ukrainian language and culture are becoming fashionable, influential and are in demand in the world”.
The established quota extends to all films, programs and news pieces. The only exception is films and programs that were released before August 1, 1991, provided that they were accompanied by Ukrainian subtitles. It’s surprising that they were not banned at all, but perhaps this step is planned a little later. After all, Ukraine easily renounces its past, only occasionally expressing claims against Russia regarding individual historical persons.
But the problem for Ukrainian talking heads is that Russia has never abandoned a common history, as evidenced by the opening of a monument to Prince Vladimir in Moscow. Nevertheless, the deputy head of Poroshenko’s presidential administration, Dmitry Shymkiv, did not miss a chance after the meeting of Macron and Putin to recall that Anne of Kiev was from Kiev. So what? And why he forgot to add Kievan Rus?
A regulatory legal act on broadcasting quotas will only contribute to increasing confrontation in the society. More than 80% of Ukrainians use Russian in everyday communication. Leading TV channels have already begun to oppose the introduction of quotas and declare that after the entry into force of new standards, the audience of TV channels will significantly decrease, watching of Russian films will be carried out via the Internet, and Ukrainian film companies will lose most of the audience.
We all perfectly understand that the main goal of introducing language quotas is the ongoing struggle with all Russian. Instead of making constructive decisions on the development of the state, taking steps to improve the social background of citizens, the Kiev authorities once again resort to the policy of restrictions, oppression and conflicts.
We can assume what the language quota of broadcasting in Ukraine will result in, remembering a similar example in Latvia. There, the Saeima had already imposed similar restrictions twice. The first time in August 1995, after which the Russian-speaking audience switched to Russian TV channels, broadcast by cable television. In 2003, such norms were found to be unconstitutional, and the law introducing restrictions was abolished. Today the head of the Latvian TV Ivar Belte notes that the growing popularity of Russian media is observed not only among Russian-speaking, but also among Latvian audience, who prefers to draw information from Russian channels.
In my opinion, in the modern world it is difficult to find any suitable legal justification to forbid the citizens of one’s country to watch a television product or use Internet resources that they like. In Ukraine, there is already a permanent political crisis, and the situation will only grow worse from such ambiguous initiatives.
Miroslav Rudenko, the DPR People’s Council deputy