#Commentary of Natalia Volkova on Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada preparing for adoption of state language draft law

The adoption of the draft law on the state language will become another step in the policy of radical nationalism, which is pursued by the Kiev authorities.

The bill was adopted in the first reading on October 4, 2018; in the second reading, it was considered in the Ukrainian parliament on February 28, 2019. More than two thousand amendments were submitted to the draft law, in which the demands of the regions speaking Russian, Tatar, Hungarian and other languages are expressed. This suggests that many residents of Ukraine are against the introduction of such legislation, however, their voices will most likely not be heard.

The document caused a serious negative response abroad. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, sent an appeal to Ukrainian deputies with a request to suspend work on the draft law for the period of the elections and to ensure the participation of national minorities’ representatives in its development. Deputy Chairman of the Kiev Society of the Hungarians Tibor Tompa said that the adoption of the law would not be in favour of strengthening interethnic relations.

Ukrainian politicians hypocritically declare that the adoption of a new law is the only way to protect the state language. In practice, this seems to be a blatant violation of human rights, and can later lead to mass repression and harassment of national minorities. Unfortunately, the Kiev authorities, under the pretext of protecting the Ukrainian language, are intensifying the split in Ukrainian society, which could lead to a state catastrophe.

Let me remind you that the bill on the state language gives the Ukrainian language the status of the only official state language in Ukraine. Any attempts to introduce multilingualism are recognized as “actions aimed at forcible change or overthrowing the constitutional order”. Also, the concept of “public humiliation of the Ukrainian language” is being introduced. This is regarded as “a wrongful act, identical to the abuse of state symbols of Ukraine and is punished in accordance with the law.”

Natalia Volkova, the Chairperson of the Education, Science and Culture Committee

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