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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

The only solution is compromise

Oleh Medvediev: “The language problem is being exacerbated by loudmouths”
27 March, 2007 - 00:00

“I declare responsibly that the people who are talking about creeping Ukrainization in the Crimea and Sevastopol are liars. Unfortunately, as sociology proves, people in the Crimea believe them. They are always being frightened that Banderites from western Ukraine will come and tear their tongues out for speaking Russian. But there is no Ukrainization in the Crimea,” the well-known political scientist, Oleh Medvediev, stated recently.

To some extent each of us is aware of the state of affairs with the Ukrainian language; we have had more than enough sociological data on this. However, to date there has been no systemic study. It took Medvediev to complete one, instead of the Presidential Secretariat and the Cabinet of Ministers.

Sociologist Iryna Bekeshkina collected and analyzed a mass of sociological information, and Deputy Speaker Mykola Tomenko signed dozens of parliamentarians’ appeals to different ministries and departments. As a result, Movnyi balans (Linguistic Balance: The Correlation of the Ukrainian and Russian Languages in Various Spheres of Public and Private Life) appeared within half a year. The authors wanted to work on it for several more months, but decided to publish it now, because of Mykola Levchenko’s notorious announcements.

The linguistic structure of the population looks like this: 38.05 percent of citizens speak only Ukrainian; 30.35 percent — exclusively Russian; and 30.54 percent use either Ukrainian or Russian, depending on the circumstances. Interestingly, bilingual people are primarily ethnic Ukrainians and citizens of Ukraine who consider Ukrainian their native language. Russians are mostly monolingual.

Medvediev is convinced that all non-Russian languages, including Ukrainian, have been and remain the “donors” of Russian. “Let’s say that among Ukrainians are 15 percent of people who consider Russian their native language, even though they are Ukrainians,” Medvediev explains. “But if you take the national minorities of Ukraine, for example, Jews, Greeks, and Belarusians, most of them also consider Russian their native language.”

The language question is also being artificially stimulated. Sociologists have compiled a list of the 30 biggest problems facing society. It turns out that the Russian language problem occupies the 26th spot, while the Ukrainian language problem is 24th. In general, 52 percent of citizens consider the language question either irrelevant or non-existent. “A paradoxical situation arises: people living in places where there is no Ukrainian at all (the Crimea, Donbas) in a geographical territory where there is no threat to Russian, are concerned with the fate of the Russian language.”

By Olha YAKHNO, The Day