Sufficient language legislation has long existed in Ukraine that offers generous guarantees to those whose speak Russian.
The 1996 constitution sets conditions for the use of Russian, alongside Ukrainian, in state organs and enterprises. It allows citizens to address state organs and enterprises in Russian, and for these institutions to respond in Russian. Russian has thrived during Ukraine’s 20 years of independence.
This all begs the question of why Ukraine’s pro-presidential and ruling Party of the Regions, with its parliamentary allies, on June 5 cast 234 votes in favor of controversial new language legislation, which experts predict would further increase use of Russian and other “minority” languages. It was sponsored by alleged 2004 election falsifier Serhiy Kivalov and provocateur-for-hire Vadim Kolesnichenko, who has made a career out of denigrating the Ukrainian language and culture.
The Regions Party has lost significant support among its electorate, particularly with such maneuvers as passing an oppressive tax code and cutting social payments to war veterans and Chornobyl clean-up workers. Indeed on the very same evening that parliament approved the first reading of the language bill, it voted on another bill that creates the opportunity to cut such social payments even further in 2013. Not a bad distraction, eh?