Turn on the TV news in Ukraine and the presenter may be asking a question in Ukrainian to a guest who answers in Russian. Such bilingual exchanges are heard not just in the capital, Kiev, but also across the country’s mostly Ukrainian-speaking western half and Russian-speaking east.
“It may look weird [to foreigners], but each person understands the
other perfectly well,” says Misha Reutsky, an unemployed marketing
executive in Kyiv.
the delicate linguistic balance achieved since Ukraine, with a
population of 45m, won independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union and
its centuries-long overlord, Moscow, could be upset. The ruling party of
President Viktor Yanukovich is pushing through a contentious bill
giving enhanced rights to Russian speakers.