Last Thursday, May 24, the parliament was supposed to consider the draft bill on language policy, but failed. MPs from the Party of Regions faction had a fight with Our Ukraine and BYuT representatives. When the fight started speaker Volodymyr Lytyvn closed the session and left the presidium.

Then ext day the parliament also failed to consider the draft bill, as BYuT MPs started blocking the parliament from early morning. The opposition believes that the given draft bill is simply aimed at granting the state language status to the Russian language.

As a reminder, the draft bill stipulates that the Ukrainian language is the only state language in Ukraine, and narrowing of its application sphere is prohibited. At the same time the draft bill recognizes the right for language freedom and forbids limiting the right of use of regional languages. There are 15 regional languages in Ukraine, including Russian, Crimean-Tatar and Romanian.

The status of regional language can be granted to a language if at least 10% of the region's population speaks it. Regional languages can be officially used in pre-election, judicial and notarial documentation, school tests, exams and colloquiums, paperwork of local governments and official correspondence with central authorities.

What is the further fate of the draft bill? Is there any use to raise this question in Ukraine? ForUm has asked experts and politicians to clarify the situation.

Ostap Stupka, national artist of Ukraine:

- This drat bill should not even be in the parliament. What has Russian to do with all this? It is the language of Russia, but we must have only one state language, and it is Ukrainian.

Volodymyr Viatrovych, candidate of historical sciences, former director of SBU archives:

- The issue on language policy is not urgent for today. It is being artificially provoked and overswollen. Adoption of this draft bill will hurt both the voters and MPs. It will result in disappearance of the whole segment of Ukrainian business and large expenses from the state budget. This is an ordinary political technology of the Party of Regions, which is fighting for voters' attention.

Mustafa Jemiliov, MP from Our Ukraine faction, head of Crimean Tatar Majlis:

- The draft bill on state language policy is vicious. Taking into account the fact that MPs vote by order, there is a chance that the draft bill will be adopted. As a result, Ukraine will be directed into Ukrainian and Russian speaking regions, while thirteen regions of Ukraine will have Russian as a state language. We know that during Soviet times Ukrainians lost their language. If Russian becomes the second state language, the citizens will have no motivation to study Ukrainian. The same concerns the Crimean Tatars. 

We want our children to speak Ukrainian, but if Russian, which we speak as freely as our native language, becomes official, there will be no motivation to continue studying Ukrainian. This draft bill is unacceptable - not now not in the future. In fact, the adoption of this draft bill will establish criminal policy, carried out by Soviet authorities.

Vadym Kolesnichenko, MP from the Party of Regions, the author of the draft bill:

- Isn't it the right time to provide Ukraine's citizens with their rights? Lytyvn's desire to promote himself before the elections in Zhytomyr is his problem. The draft bill was not considered because Lytyvn violated the regulations and provoked a fight. He announced simultaneous consideration of mutually exclusive draft bills and purposely aggravated the situation. He is personally responsible for the fight in the parliament.  

The position of the majority remains unchanged - the draft bill must be adopted.

My colleagues from western Ukraine worry about their families, because they receive physical intimidations for voting the draft bill. 

In addition, all sociologists confirm that 45% of the population stands for Russian language as the second state language, while other 45% stands against. So, those who want Ukrainian as the state language are provided with their rights, while those who consider Russian as their native language are not. The problem is not in the language, but in the attitude. Limitation of human rights is unacceptable in a democratic state of 21st century.

Volodymyr Paniotto, director of Kyiv international institute of sociology:

- Being a sociologist I cannot tell you whether this draft bill will be adopted or not. I believe the very MPs do not know for sure. But I know why this issue has been included into agenda.

I want to remind that the pre-election program of the Party of Regions included the Russian language and its status in Ukraine. And the next elections are coming...It's not important whether the draft bill is adopted or not. The important is to demonstrate efforts: we wanted to do this...

I support the opinion on that the language issue, historical events and other sensitive for Ukrainians issues require discussions and scientific approach. I am sure we must introduce a moratorium on use of such issues in a political fight.


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