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The President and his administration still appear to
be basking in the illusion that all they need is another “working group” for
astounding indifference to democratic principles, Ukraine’s citizens and the
country itself to pass unnoticed.

Record-breaking stupidity or phenomenal cheek? That to
a large extent depends now on the public’s response.

This latest working group is supposed to be created “with the involvement of the public,
well-known figures in education, the arts and sciences, leading specialists on
language issues in order to draw up and introduce systematic proposals on
improving legislation regarding the procedure for use of languages in Ukraine.

The problem is not only in the mental acrobatics
required to see Russian-speaking Prime Minister
Azarov as a defender of the Ukrainian language. It is no easier to believe in
the “involvement of the public” when by signing the Law on the Principles of
Language Policy Yanukovych has broken all records as regards contempt for that
very same Ukrainian public.

He has ignored:

Ukraine’s Constitution;

flagrant infringements of procedure in the adoption of
the law;

the Opinion
of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission

the advice
of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut

the opinion of all profile institutions of the Academy of Sciences (the Institute for
Language Studies; the Ukrainian Language Institute;; the Institute for
Political and Ethno-National Research; the Institute for State and Law

assessments of the Chief Legal Department of the Verkhovna Rada; the Ministry of Finance, Justice
Ministry and at least two parliamentary committees;

the appeal from the All-Ukrainian Council of
Churches and Religious Organizations

statement from the Association
of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine [VAAD]

appeal from the First December
Initiative signed by prominent Ukrainian public figures including the former
Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Cardinal Lyubomir Huzar; former
dissidents and political prisoners Myroslav Marynovych, Yevhen Sverstyuk,
Semyon Gluzman, historian Myroslav Popovych, Ivan Dziuba and others

the appeal
from a number of public figures and civic organizations, including other former
dissidents, writers and academics

assessments by analysts from the Razumkov Centre, the Ukrainian Independent
Political Research Centr
e, the Democratic Initiatives
, by Mykola
and others;

the position of numerous
scholars, writers and others, as well as of human rights and civic organizations,

the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine;

the Association of Ukrainian Writers;

the Secretariat of the National Union of Writers of

the Centre for Political and Legal Reform

the Kharkiv Human Rights Group;  and very many others;

the appeal by the
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union;

the Centre for Civil Liberties;

the Laboratory of Legislative Initiatives; and many

I will refrain from rhetorical questions since it is,
after all, entirely clear whose interests the President is protecting. And even
if this time he may have plunged headfirst into a bog, the damage to the
country is undeniable

The sole representative of civil society in the
President’s “Anti-Corruption Committee” warned some time ago that he would
leave if the President signed a law legalizing corruption (he did), and this
language law (ditto).

There remains only one question: why anyone would
continue to take part in the dangerous and increasingly unconvincing imitation
of public dialogue offered by all these working groups and committees.

On second thoughts, that too is purely rhetorical.

Halya Coynash
is a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.


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