Estimates: Language law could cost $2 billion

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July 6, 2012, 3:59 p.m. | Ukraine — by Katya Gorchinskaya

A man symbolically places tape over the mouth of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko's monument during a protest against a language bill in the western city of Lviv on July 6, 2012. Ukraine's fractious parliament adjourned for a summer recess despite failing to resolve a crisis over its rushed passing of a controversial bill elevating the status of Russian'. In its final session, the Verkhovna Rada voted not to even consider whether to accept the resignation of speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn who announced he would quit after not being warned the chamber was preparing to pass the bill. AFP PHOTO/ YURIY DYACHYSHYN

Katya Gorchinskaya

Katya Gorchinskaya has been the Kyiv Post's deputy chief editor since 2009 and is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications. She can be reached at

Politics and ethics aside, the numbers around the new controversial language law look like it's going to cost Ukrainians a lot. More than they can afford, in fact, both in direct and indirect costs.
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Jerry Vilna-Ukraina July 6, 2012, 4:58 p.m.    

What is he thinking this yanou fella? He has shown himself to finally for all to see that he is a fascist

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Eugene Al Gagins July 7, 2012, 2:45 a.m.    

Do people really believe that this has been done by an individual? It is so obvious: cash - picture - article - brainwash people - make think less educated that Russian speakers are bad...

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Eugene Al Gagins July 7, 2012, 2:26 a.m.    

There are so many deep economic, educational and social issues. But there are centers of power that persistently use language issue to part people in Ukraine rather than unite them. It is a fact that Russian to larger extent (for millions of Ukrainian citizens) and Romanian & Hungarian & Polish & Crimean Tatar to lesser extent (hundreds of thousand of Ukrainian citizens).are the native languages of people native to the territory of modern Ukraine. These five languages have been spoken on the territory of modern Ukraine for generations. If people of Ukraine want to build a democratic state where the rights of minorities are respected and protected then this law is an excellent initiative. Pass the law and there will be NO language problem. I know Ukrainian language and respect it, so please respect our native languages.

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Eugene Al Gagins July 7, 2012, 2:32 a.m.    

I was born in a Russian-speaking city, Odessa. My family is Russian speaking. My parents, two grand parents from Odessa and great grand-parents were speaking Russian as a native language. (The other two grandparents are Polish (from Lvov) and Latvian (from Riga)).

The city of Odessa, founded by order of Catherine the Great, Russian Empress in 1789. De Ribas and Franz de Volan recommended the area of Khadzhibei fortress as the site for the region's basic port: it had an ice-free harbor, breakwaters could be cheaply constructed and would render the harbor safe and it would have the capacity to accommodate large fleets. The Governor General of Novorossiya, Platon Zubov (one of Catherine's favorites) supported this proposal, and in 1794 Catherine approved the founding of the new port-city and invested the first money in constructing the city. So, the native language of people in Odessa has been Russian for over 200 years since its inception.

For example, in 1917 Odessa proclaimed an independent republic which was a short-lived state for less than a year. This is a link from Wiki that has the picture of local money at that time.
The language used for money was Russian, which is a native language of our city!

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Eugene Al Gagins July 7, 2012, 2:35 a.m.    

The state is made for people of that state and not the opposite. In many administrative areas Russian is the native language and not Ukrainian. We also have oblasts (administrative units) where the native langauge is Romanian or Hungarian for sizable minorities, but Russian is native for millions. It is our native language and we whant to live happy lives at our home and make sure that our native language is protected and respected. People in Odessa respect Ukrainian, so please respect our rights and our native Russian language that has been spoken in Odessa since its build up in the end of XVIII century.

But such provocative pictures and articles postpone our happy future.

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harley July 7, 2012, 7:37 a.m.    

There's really too much info here for just one article; I would like to see a followup on the secret procurement law that was passed and the fact that it was passed by only 73 deputies. This is what should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country and the lead story on every TV station for a week!

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zoolander July 8, 2012, 7:53 p.m.    

Eugene, the countryside was always Ukrainian speaking, even if it is invisible to the city people. Imagine for a moment if on traditionally ethnic Russian territory people speaking another language had been sent/settled in large numbers in the cities and what that would have done to the country. Also, why is it that Ukrainians so often switch to Russian out of politeness but that Russians rarely do so? Under the czars and the Soviets, Russian was established as the neutral language and in the cities to speak Ukrainian was to be pushing some agenda, and who dared risk doing that? Also, many Russophone people who are ethnically Ukrainian wish they knew Ukrainian well but circumstances/history did not allow for it.

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Eugene Al Gagins July 9, 2012, 3 a.m.    

Thank you for your comment. My grandmother always encouraged me to learn history.

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Eugene Al Gagins July 9, 2012, 3:10 a.m.    

About Slobody.

The early Russian ethnic groups resided in Putyvl region (what is modern northern Ukraine) from medieval times. The first new waves of Russian settlers onto Ukrainian territory came in the late 16th century to the empty lands of Slobozhanschyna, in what is now northeastern Ukraine, that the Russian state gained from the Tatars. Russian Tsar encouraged Ukrainian peasants escaping harsh exploitative conditions from the west to settle in the area. In 1599 Tsar Boris Godunov ordered the construction of Tsareborisov on the banks of Oskol River, the first city and the first fortress in Eastern Ukraine. To defend the territory from Tatar raids the Russians built the defensive line (1635–1658), and Ukrainians started fleeing to be under its defense. So, both Russians and Ukrainians settled in the empty lands of Slobozhanschyna, where one could find both Russian Slobody (settlements), Ukrainian Slobody and mixed Slobody.

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Eugene Al Gagins July 9, 2012, 3:13 a.m.    

Another example - Southern Ukraine.

At the end of the 18th century, the Russian Empire captured large uninhabited steppe territories from the former Crimean Khanate. The systematic colonization of lands in what became known as Novorossiya (mainly Crimea, Taurida and around Odessa) began. Migrants from many ethnic groups (predominantly Russians from Russia proper and Ukrainians) came to this area. At the same time the discovery of coal in the Donets Basin also marked the commencement of a large-scale industrialization and an influx of workers from other parts of the Russian Empire.
Nearly all of the major cities of the southern and eastern Ukraine were established in this period: Aleksandrovsk (now Zaporizhia; 1770), Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk; 1776), Kherson and Mariupol (1778), Sevastopol (1783), Simferopol and Novoaleksandrovka (Melitopol) (1784), Nikolayev (Mykolaiv; 1789), Odessa (1794), Lugansk (Luhansk; foundation of Luhansk plant in 1795).

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Eugene Al Gagins July 9, 2012, 3:15 a.m.    

The state is made for people of that state and not the opposite. Russian is our native language and we want to live happy lives at our home and make sure that our native language is protected and respected. People in Odessa respect Ukrainian, so please respect our rights and our native Russian language that has been spoken in Odessa since its build up in the end of XVIII century.

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Boico July 9, 2012, 6:51 p.m.    

I am not sure you are Polish, Russian or …..but very often people of different nationalities in Ukraine cry what happened to them and it was OK under communist lay but my roots go to Pawlokoma, today on Polish side where everybody was killed except girls below 4years of edge (my mother who survive thanks to good heart people) and all this happened in places where my ancestors where living for ever, never interfering in others business and never emigrated to foren land to take anything from people who help in time of need. Where is your appreciation Al Gagins (this is no Polish or Russian name) to those who probably work hard lake goy’s to make your life so “bad”. I also see you had no problem to learn English so, is any other reason you hate Ukrainian and those people so much!!!!

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Eugene Al Gagins July 9, 2012, 9:03 p.m.    

Dear Boico, thank your for your interest in my post. I usually discuss the topic or express my thoughts or feelings towards the topic or point. I have read your post a few times but I am not sure how I should respond to your questions/statements. Anyway I will try. First of all, you are asking me about who I am. I am Russian from Odessa, born and raised. As I have previously written two of my grandparents are Russians from Odessa as well as their ancestors. I also spoke some intermediate level "kid's" Polish when I was a child since my grandmother was Polish from Lvov and we spent a lot of time together. My last name Gagins is coming from my second grandfather who was Latvian from Riga. I am glad that I have not only Russian heritage but also Polish and Latvian. I adore my city, like my language, Russian literature... When I went to school I gladly learnt Ukrainian. Moreover, it was very easy to learn it since both Russian and Polish are close Slavic languages. I respect Ukrainian language. Moreover, I like Slavic languages in general and spent some quality time to learn Serbian (basic level) Serbian songs...
Secondly, I totally agree that world history knows a lot of cruelties, atrocities and injustice. I feel sorrow about what happened to the members of your family. I hope that XXI century will be the happiest century for humanity and hope that people/different ethnic, social, religious...groups will have enough wisdom and empathy to understand each other and will to collaborate on many topics thus building better future for everyone. Happy future for us all, our families and our kids.

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