It would seem the language issue has been settled and the storm gas eased off, but Party of Regions MP Oleksandr Chernomorov has suddenly submitted a draft bill to strengthen the protection of the rights of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine. Though Chernomorov has been expelled from the party and his former colleagues assure the bill has nothing to do with the party's policy, certain accusations of inconsistency start arriving to the party.

The explanatory memorandum to the bill says that the goal of the law is to specify principles of state language policy on ensuring the constitutional rights of the Russian-speaking population and the free use of their mother tongue and the language of everyday communication - Russian, used by at least half of the population of the state.

The bill provides that the Ukrainian state provides its citizens with the right of free use of the Russian language as the language of the indigenous people of Ukraine, the international language of international communication, and in the regions densely populated by people who speak Russian as their mother tongue, granting the Russian language the equal rights as the state language has. According to the bill, the state will promote application of the Russian language in mass media, science, culture and other sectors of public life.

The bill concerns the official documents as well and provides for publishing and announcing text of legislative acts and official documents in both, Ukrainian and Russian languages. Even voting papers during such large-scale official event as referendum must be published in both languages in the regions, where Russian is the regional language, the bill says.

Similar law contradicts Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which stipulates monolingualism in Ukraine. However, Chernomorov believes that his draft bill reflects the true state of bilingualism in the society and meets the principles of social justice.

ForUm has asked politicians and experts about the meaning of such initiative and its consequences.
Taras Berezovets, director of "Berta Communications' company, political strategist:

- All the processes regarding the introduction of the second state language - Russian - are rather passive. In the list of priorities this issue goes after economic problems and holds one of the last positions. Thus, this question is fully artificial and does find active support among the population. I am sure that the Verkhovna Rada of current convocation will not adopt this law. The issue may be considered after the parliamentary election, but still I doubt MPs will pass it.

Maxim Lutski, MP from the Party of Regions:

- I respect my colleague Oleksandr Chernomorov, but this bill is his personal point of view. I support the position of the President, who has urged to join efforts on solving issues, which unite Ukraine, not split it. The state language is one and only - Ukrainian. The law on regional languages is a different matter, as we do have many people speaking Russian, and more that 10% of population want to use as a regional language. However, I will not vote for the draft bill proposing to establish Russian as the second state langauge.

Taras Chonovil, MP of Ukraine, member of the parliamentary group "Reforms for future":

- I would prefer not to ignore similar initiatives. Remember when Zhuravski proposed to introduce criminal responsibility for defamation. Nobody thought back then that such nonsense could be adopted. But we see now that similar draft bill has passed its first reading. However, in the case of Chernomorov the chances are smaller. Chernomorov has not been included in the party list for these parliamentary elections and thus he has decided to nominate himself in Crimea. I believe this is just an attempt to use the situation. His draft bill has a bigger conflict with the Constitution that the language on regional languages by Kolesnichenko and Kivalov, but Crimea is the only region of Ukraine where people live more or less happy and the Russian language issue is the only urgent problem to discuss. In any other region Chernomorov's voice would be ignored.

Volodymyr Lupatski, expert - political scientists, executive director of Center for social studies:

- I believe this draft bill means that within the Party of Regions there are several political tendencies, one of which is openly pro-Russian. I think before the elections this subject will not be discussed, but after the elections certain amendments are possible. The matter is that the policy of regional languages is becoming absurd. Soon we will have a separate regional language in every apartment. The Party of Regions will realize the necessity to maintain single humanitarian and cultural space, thus the language policy will be revised. I believe, any party in the power will come to this.

Moreover, this process proves attempts to wash out our single humanitarian space and to eat our borders. The matter concerns not only Russia, but also a number of other neighboring countries. On the other hand, politicians can declare anything, but they still need economic mechanisms to fulfill their declarations.

Myroslav Popovich, Dr.Ph., director of the institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Science:

- I think it is unreal to make the Russian language the second state language, and nobody even expects this law to be constitutional. Its goal is to draw voters' attention to the language issue and to promote ability to compromise. This process will last for a long while.


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