Saturday, July 7, 2012

Political analysts split on language law (Kyiv Post)

Ukrainian political analysts are split regarding their estimations of the situation over the adoption of the law on principles of state language policy.
Director of the Kyiv-based Center for Political and Conflict Studies Mykhailo Pohrebynsky said at a press conference on Friday that about 20% of Ukrainians support the position of "ousting the Russian language from official use" in Ukraine. "All that the opposition is currently doing is defending the position of a minority of Ukrainian citizens, while a majority calls for raising the status of the Russian language. All this hysteria, hunger strikes and so forth are the result of this, and I think this is an example of totalitarian thinking," the analyst said.

Head of the Penta Center for Political Analysis Volodymyr Fesenko said that the language issue had led to the creation of a parliamentary and socio-political crisis in the country. "The language issue has to be considered. I am sure that we have to conduct the modernization of language legislation, because it is obsolete," Fesenko said. However, he said, political parties have to seek a compromise in this regard. "We cannot ignore the interests and needs of the Russian-speaking population, otherwise, politicians will resume the division of the country into Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking citizens," the analyst said. Fesenko said that the problem of the current bill lies in the fact that it concerns state guarantees for the Russian language and minority languages, without providing such guarantees for the Ukrainian language. "If the bill is called 'On the principles of the state language policy,' then it should have provided significant state guarantees for the development of the Ukrainian language. Then, this law would be well-balanced," the expert said. In its current wording, he said, the law looks like a definite election tool to win over part of the voters and mobilize the electorate.

President of the Open Policy Analytical Center Ihor Zhdanov, in turn, said he had doubt that a compromise could be reached in the current situation in parliament. "What kind of compromise can we talk about if people don't listen to each other? I think that in order to secure a compromise, it's necessary to come to the Lukianivsky pre-trial detention center or the Kachanivska penal colony and find a compromise with opposition leaders there," the analyst said. He said that in the situation with the adoption of the language law the concerned committee was not allowed to decide on all of the amendments and the law was put to the vote, after which a deep political crisis erupted in the country.

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