No Russian! Ukraine bans Russian music and books from public spaces and media

On Monday, Reuters reported that Ukraine’s parliament has passed two laws that will impose severe restrictions on Russian books and music as Kyiv seeks to sever the many cultural ties that remain between the two countries after Moscow’s invasion.

One of the laws passed prohibits the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they renounce their Russian passport and take Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991.

It also prohibits the commercial import of books printed in Russia, Belarus and occupied Ukrainian territory, while requiring special permission for the import of books in Russian from any other country.

The other law passed bans the broadcasting of music by post-1991 Russian citizens in the media and on public transport, while increasing quotas for speech and musical content in Ukrainian on TV and radio broadcasts.

The laws must be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to take effect, although he was not heard to voice any opposition to the proposals. Both bills passed Sunday with overwhelming support, including from lawmakers traditionally seen as pro-Kremlin by most Ukrainian media and civil society.

Many who live in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine have historically felt a strong connection to Russia, often speaking Russian as their first language.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led many Ukrainians to want to separate themselves from Russian culture.

A statement explaining the bill says Russian music would make adopting a Russian identity more appealing, potentially weakening the Ukrainian state.

The “musical product of the aggressor state [could] influence the separatist sentiment of the population,” according to the statement, quoted by lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak on Telegram.

Russian widely spoken in Ukraine

Russian is the most common first language in the Donbass and Crimea regions of Ukraine and in the city of Kharkiv, and the predominant language in major cities in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

The use and status of the language are the subject of political disputes.

Ukrainian has been the only state language in the country since the adoption of the 1996 Constitution, which prohibits an official bilingual system at the state level but also guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian and other national minority languages.

In 2017, a new education law was passed limiting the use of Russian as a language of instruction. Nevertheless, Russian remains a widely used language in Ukraine in pop culture and in informal and business communication.

“Derussification” of Ukraine

The 2017 Law on Education provides that the Ukrainian language is the language of instruction at all levels, except for one or more subjects which may be taught in two or more languages, namely English or one of the other official languages ​​of the European Union (i.e. excluding Russian).

The law states that persons belonging to the indigenous peoples of Ukraine are guaranteed the right to study in pre-school institutes and public primary schools in “the language of instruction of the respective indigenous peoples, as well as the language of instruction of state” in separate schools. classes or groups.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) expressed concern about this measure and the lack of “real consultation” of representatives of national minorities.

In July 2018, the Administrative Court of Mykolaiv Okrug liquidated the status of Russian as a regional language, on the lawsuit (bringing it back to the norms of national legislation due to the recognition of the law “On the principles of the language policy of State” by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine as unconstitutional) of the First Deputy Prosecutor of Mykolaiv Oblast.

In October and December 2018, the parliaments of the city of Kherson and Kharkiv Oblast also abolished the status of the Russian language as a regional language.

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