The prob­lem with Ir­ish

Ig­nor­ing the lan­guage is­sue risks the like­li­hood that Ukrainian will dis­ap­pear al­to­gether in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Week - - CONTENTS - Olek­sandr Kra­mar

Ig­nor­ing the lan­guage is­sue risks the like­li­hood that Ukrainian will dis­ap­pear al­to­gether in Ukraine

A few years ago, Manchán Ma­gan, an Ir­ish writer and jour­nal­ist, trav­elled across Ire­land from Dublin pre­tend­ing he only spoke Ir­ish. He dis­cov­ered that the staff of most ser­vice providers and stores could not com­mu­ni­cate with him. Here is how Ma­gan de­scribed one of his ex­pe­ri­ences: “‘Do you speak English?’ a sales as­sis­tant asked in a cold in­tim­i­dat­ing voice. ‘Sea,’ I said, nod­ding meekly. ‘Well, can you speak English to me now?’ I told him as sim­ply as I could that I was try­ing to get by with Ir­ish. ‘I'm not talk­ing to you any more,’ he said. ‘Go away.’” En­cour­ag­ingly, Ma­gan told the sales as­sis­tant that he could un­der­stand him if he spoke English. “English only,” was the an­swer from the sales as­sis­tant’s boss, who re­peated it twice. When Ma­gan asked them what other lan­guages he could speak to them in, they pointed to a list of seven coun­tries on the wall.

Ma­gan en­coun­tered many prob­lems in other parts of the coun­try. His ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence was espe­cially shock­ing given thatof­fi­cial Ir­ish sta­tis­tics are that 2540% of his coun­try­men sup­pos­edly know the lan­guage, and that Ir­ish is one of the work­ing lan­guages of the EU.

WHAT THE POLLS SAY

To as­sume that Ukrainian is safe­guarded from a sim­i­lar sce­nario in Ukraine is to be overly com­pla­cent. De­spite the rise of national sen­ti­ment and some growth in pa­tri­o­tism trig­gered by Rus­sia’s ag­gres­sion, the en­vi­ron­ment where Ukrainian is used in the coun­try keeps shrink­ing.

At first glance, the lat­est polls across Ukraine — out­side the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries — look far bet­ter than those con­ducted prior to 2014. But this is mis­lead­ing, be­cause pre-2014 sta­tis­tics in­cluded mostly rus­si­fied Crimea and the equally rus­si­fied­parts of Don­bas that are cur­rently un­der oc­cu­pa­tion. In­deed, sur­veys show that most peo­ple in Ukraine feel that the Ukrainian lan­guage is un­der pres­sure and threat­ened, and are keen to see more proac­tive ef­forts on the part of the gov­ern­ment to ex­pand the use of Ukrainian.

Ac­cord­ing to sur­veys con­ducted by Ukraine’s top poll­sters and pub­lished by Pro­stir Svo­body or Free­dom Space Move­ment, 17% of those polled be­lieve that Rus­sian speak­ers in Ukraine are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pres­sure be­cause of their lan­guage, while 72% re­ject this no­tion. 60% of those polled be­lieve that the Ukrainian lan­guage should be­come the main lan­guage in all ar­eas of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and 61% say that the state lan­guage pol­icy should “sup­port the spread of the Ukrainian lan­guage in all ar­eas of life.” 64% think that the gov­ern­ment should sup­port Ukrainian first and fore­most.

Mean­while, a closer look at the num­bers re­veals that the share of eth­nic Ukraini­ans us­ing Ukrainian at home

is mov­ing closer to 50%. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by the Razumkov Cen­ter in the spring of 2017, 92% of Ukraine’s cit­i­zens, ex­clud­ing the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, de­scribed them­selves as eth­nic Ukraini­ans and only 6% as eth­nic Rus­sians. A sur­vey by the Kyiv In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of So­ci­ol­ogy (KIIS) re­vealed that 88% of Ukraine’s cit­i­zens de­scribed them­selves as eth­nic Ukraini­ans and less than 6% as eth­nic Rus­sians. 50% of those polled by KIIS say that they speak Ukrainian at home, 25% speak Rus­sian mostly or al­ways, and 24% speak both lan­guages in their fam­i­lies. This re­flects the na­tion­wide sit­u­a­tion. In big and mid-sized cities, Ukrainian is in a far worse po­si­tion, espe­cially in South­east­ern and Cen­tral Ukraine.

STOCK­HOLM SYN­DROME

Ukraine has a lot in com­mon with Ire­land in this. Three cen­turies of be­ing dis­missed as“Lit­tle Rus­sians” has en­gen­dered an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex that is most felt around the is­sue of lan­guage. Ukraini­ans could ex­pect to pur­sue their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional am­bi­tions, or to join the up­per classes only by aban­don­ing their na­tive lan­guage and switch­ing to Rus­sian. Even­tu­ally, the pres­sure ex­erted on sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of Ukraini­ans turned them into the driv­ers of the process. As a re­sult, rus­si­fi­ca­tion con­tin­ues in Ukraine, as if it were still a cor­ner of the Rus­sian em­pire, not a fully in­de­pen­dent na­tion.

More and more Ukrainian-speak­ers con­tinue to aban­don their lan­guage be­cause the gov­ern­ment of­fers no clear and ef­fec­tive lan­guage pol­icy, post-im­pe­rial in­er­tia con­tin­ues, and too many Ukrainian-speak­ers are pas­sive about de­fend­ing their lan­guage rights. As a re­sult, Rus­sian re­mains the dom­i­nant lan­guage in Ukraine to­day. The coun­try’s colo­nial le­gacy means that Rus­sian still dom­i­nates in its main eco­nomic and cul­tural cen­ters, Lviv be­ing the only ex­cep­tion among ma­jor cities. It dom­i­nates in busi­ness and mass me­dia as the ma­jor­ity print prod­ucts, ex­cept for text­books and chil­dren’s books are pub­lished in Rus­sian. Most mid- and top civil ser­vants still speak Rus­sian, at least in every­day life. In vi­o­la­tion of the law and thanks to loop­holes, Rus­sian con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate among bu­reau­crats, espe­cially in un­of­fi­cial or off-record com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

De­spite the ap­pear­ance of ukrainiza­tion, Rus­sian is de facto overly present in Ukraine’s school sys­tem, espe­cially in the­sciences in sec­ondary and vo­ca­tional schools, non-hu­man­i­ties fac­ul­ties in uni­ver­si­ties, and most fac­ul­ties across the board in post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions in south­east­ern Ukraine. Lec­tures are of­ten de­liv­ered in Ukrainian while sem­i­nars and con­sul­ta­tions with pro­fes­sors are in Rus­sian. In a nut­shell, most schools with Ukrainian as the lan­guage of in­struc­tion, vo­ca­tional schools and uni­ver­si­ties in big and mid­sized cities, both in south­east­ern Ukraine and beyond, con­tinue to use Rus­sian in ed­u­ca­tion, espe­cially for ex­tracur­ric­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Non-school ed­u­ca­tion is even worse in this re­gard.

The dom­i­na­tion of Rus­sian in the me­dia, ra­dio and cus­tomer ser­vice re­mains a huge prob­lem. Ac­cord­ing to data from Free­dom Space, only 31.9% of printed press is in Ukrainian while nearly 62% is still in Rus­sian. In fact, the share of press in Ukrainian has shrunk from 34% to 32% since 2015. More­over, Ukrainian re­mains a mi­nor­ity lan­guage on ra­dio and TV, both of which in­flu­ence Ukraini­ans far more than the press. A study of cafes, restau­rants and stores in 26 cities across Ukraine has re­vealed that Rus­sian dom­i­nates in the ser­vice sec­tor, too. Only 49% of the places cov­ered by the sur­vey make sure that the staff re­ply to cus­tomers in Ukrainian. In stores, 44% of sales as­sis­tants and con­sul­tants do so. This is bet­ter than Ire­land, but is Ukraine mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion?

COLO­NIAL CITIES

The threat of Ukraine be­com­ing like Ire­land lin­guis­ti­cally is ag­gra­vated by the way it is be­ing ur­ban­ized and sub­ur­ban­ized. While non-oc­cu­pied Ukraine no longer has fully Rus­sian-speak­ing re­gions, Ha­ly­chyna in Western Ukraine, cov­er­ing Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil Oblasts, is the only re­gion that can be de­scribed as a Ukrainian-speak­ers. In other oblasts, small and mid-sized rus­si­fied cities dom­i­nate the Ukrainian-speak­ing coun­try­side. Pro­por­tions vary across Ukraine­and ur­ban-ru­ral in­ter­ac­tions re­sult in min­gling where part of the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion switches to Ukrainian while some of those liv­ing in small towns and vil­lages switch to Rus­sian. But this is hardly chang­ing the over­all pic­ture. Most big cities with sub­urbs and many mid-sized ones re­main post-colo­nial cen­ters of rus­si­fi­ca­tion by in­er­tia from the cen­turies when Ukraine was sub­ju­gated to Rus­sia.

In Kharkiv Oblast, Rus­sian dom­i­nates in only 9% of the ter­ri­tory – the part of the oblast cov­ered by Kharkiv proper and its county and Chuhuyiv and its county. But the to­tal pop­u­la­tion of this ter­ri­tory of un­der 3,000 sq km is 1.71 mil­lion peo­ple or 62.5% of the oblast pop­u­la­tion. As a re­sult, the oblast is gen­er­ally listed as a Rus­sian-speak­ing one. The re­main­ing 90.7% of the oblast, or 28,500 km2, has nearly 1mn res­i­dents, which is com­pa­ra­ble to the sizes of most oblasts in Cen­tral and Western Ukraine. In this part of Kharkiv Oblast, over 80% of the res­i­dents, rang­ingfrom 69 to 95% in dif­fer­ent coun­ties, speak Ukrainian as their na­tive lan­guage.

In Dnipro Oblast, over 80% of res­i­dents in ev­ery ad­min­is­tra­tive county speak Ukrainian. In some, 90-95% list Ukrainian as their mother tongue. Rus­sian-speak­ers pre­vail in the big and mid-sized cities that are home to most of the oblast pop­u­la­tion al­though they cover less than 3% of the oblast ter­ri­tory over­all.

In Myko­layiv Oblast, Rus­sian-speak­ers make up an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity in the oblast cap­i­tal and its sub­urbs. As the city is home to 42.5% of the oblast pop­u­la­tion, Myko­layiv Oblast is also con­sid­ered pre­dom­i­nantly Rus­sian-speak­ing. Mean­while, 80-97% of the oblast pop­u­la­tion out­side the cap­i­tal speaks Ukrainian. All coun­ties in Kher­son Oblast, ex­cept for Henich­esk County, are in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

The dom­i­na­tion of Rus­sian in big cities of the oth­er­wise Ukrainian-speak­ing coun­try is a re­sult of the colo­nial pol­icy en­forced by the Rus­sian Em­pire, then the Soviet Union. To un­der­stand just what Ukraine is fac­ing now, his­tor­i­cally, ur­ban pop­u­la­tions in Ukraine were

Ac­cord­ing to data from Free­dom Space, only 31.9% of printed press is in Ukrainian while nearly 62% is still in Rus­sian. In fact, the share of press in Ukrainian has shrunk from 34% to 32% since 2015

quite small when ac­tive rus­si­fi­ca­tion kicked off in the 18th cen­tury. In Kyiv,129 Rus­sians made up a mere 0.7% of the city’s 20,000 res­i­dents in 1742. They were the “Great Rus­sian mer­chant folk.” Grad­u­ally their num­ber in­creased by some 5,000-10,000.

A ONE-WAY PROCESS THE WRONG WAY

In the­ory, ur­ban­iza­tion and sub­ur­ban­iza­tion could serve as a melt­ing pot for Ukrainian- and Rus­sianspeak­ers. In­stead, Ukrainian-speak­ers tend to get rus­si­fied more eas­ily than the re­verse as they move to the cities. Once they leave their homes, many ad­just to the lan­guage that dom­i­nates in their new en­vi­ron­ment. Sur­veys show that Ukrainian is used in pub­lic less than at home, lead­ing to greater dis­crim­i­na­tion against the lan­guage in pub­lic do­mains. This is par­tic­u­larly vis­i­ble in a range of re­gions and cities of cer­tain types. Ac­cord­ing to an April 2007 sur­vey by the So­ci­ol­ogy In­sti­tute of the National Academy of Sci­ences and SOCIS, a poll­ster, 57.2% of Ukrainian cit­i­zens spoke Ukrainian at home and 53.6% did so in pub­lic. But the fig­ures for south­ern and eastern oblasts, leav­ing out oc­cu­pied Crimea and Don­bas, were 41% and 34%. In Kyiv, 43.7% spoke Ukrainian and surzhyk, a mix of Ukrainian and Rus­sian, at home while only 35.4% did so in pub­lic. In other cities over 250,000, 37.7% spoke Ukrainian at home and 33.3% did so in pub­lic.

As gen­er­a­tions change, many young peo­ple who spoke Ukrainian with their par­ents at home and Rus­sian in pub­lic, in school or at work, tend to grad­u­ally switch to Rus­sian en­tirely — even at home. This process of rus­si­fi­ca­tion may look per­fectly nat­u­ral to an out­sider, but as it picks up­pace, it is likely to lead to the grad­ual disappearance of the Ukrainian lan­guage and of Ukraini­ans as a na­tion on a big part of the coun­try’s ter­ri­tory. In­deed, this is the very goal that those who are ve­he­mently against “forced ukrainiza­tion” are pro­mot­ing. Whether they re­al­ize it or not, all those who de­fend the “rights of the Rus­sian lan­guage” in Ukraine’s post-colo­nial en­vi­ron­ment are, in fact, lob­by­ing for Russki Mir, Moscow’s ex­pan­sion­ist credo that Rus­sia has no boundaries and wher­ever Rus­sian is used is Rus­sian ter­ri­tory.

What’s more, sur­veys re­veal that the high­est pro­por­tion of those who be­lieve that the rights of Rus­sianspeak­ers in Ukraine are be­ing vi­o­lated is in the very oblasts where the Ukrainian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion has faced con­stant dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­tense rus­si­fi­ca­tion has taken place ever since in­de­pen­dence: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Odesa Oblasts. Those who say so are not look­ing for more op­por­tu­ni­ties to use Rus­sian: they want Ukrainian to com­pletely dis­ap­pear from ev­ery as­pect of their lives. Al­though they may overtly de­clare “tol­er­ance” to­wards Ukrainian, Rus­sian-speak­ers tend to ac­tu­ally be more ag­gres­sive in de­fend­ing their right to speak Rus­sian, whereas overly tol­er­ant Ukrainian-speak­ers, espe­cially in Cen­tral Ukraine, are quicker to yield to Rus­sian in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, view­ing it as im­po­lite, unattrac­tive and un­nec­es­sary to in­sist on Ukrainian.

BILIN­GUAL­ISM LEADS TO RUS­SI­FI­CA­TION

The long-stand­ing cam­paigns that sup­port the idea of a bilin­gual Ukraine, which is pop­u­lar in some po­lit­i­cal cir­cles, are also mis­guided. Over the last few decades, Ukraine has seen con­stant ho­mog­e­niza­tion in bilin­gual en­vi­ron­ments. Un­less the gov­ern­ment adopts an ef­fec­tive pro-ac­tive lan­guage pol­icy, bilin­gual­ism will just be an in­ter­me­di­ate step in the process of rus­si­fi­ca­tion. Of the 5% of bilin­gual Ukraini­ans in Cen­tral Ukraine, only 1% even­tu­ally switched com­pletely to Ukrainian be­tween 1992-2010, while the other 4% switched to Rus­sian. In south­ern Ukraine, 1% of the 10% bilin­guals switched to Ukrainian, while the other 9% be­came Rus­sian-speak­ers. As a re­sult, the share of those us­ing Rus­sian only at home has gone from 43% to 54% in south­ern Ukraine and from 56% to 64% in Eastern Ukraine. In short, the bilin­gual pool is be­ing re­plen­ished by Ukrainian-speak­ers.

Ur­ban­iza­tion and sub­ur­ban­iza­tion were ex­pected to “blend” Ukraini­ans in small and mid-sized cities with vil­lages around them that are beyond the reach of rus­si­fi­ca­tion. How­ever, as ru­ral and small-town Ukraini­anspeak­ers moved to big­ger cen­ters, they tend to switch to the lan­guage that al­ready dom­i­nates in their new lo­ca­tion — Rus­sian — much as they did un­der the Rus­sian em­pire and Soviet Union. Polls in Kyiv con­tinue to re­veal a huge gap be­tween those speak­ing Ukrainian at home and in pub­lic, where Rus­sian is still used as the de­fault lan­guage of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. And to out­siders, this seems like a per­fectly “nat­u­ral” process: since the cities are Rus­sian-speak­ing, new­com­ers should adapt by switch­ing to Rus­sian, leav­ing Ukrainian at home.

WHOSE SIDE ARE WE ON, ANY­WAY?

The only way to turn this process around is for the gov­ern­ment to rad­i­cally in­ten­sify its lan­guage pol­icy and stop the con­tin­u­ing rus­si­fi­ca­tionof in­de­pen­dent Ukraine. Oth­er­wise, like Ire­land, Ukraine could face the nearly com­plete disappearance of its na­tive lan­guage in the not-to-dis­tant fu­ture. The longer the cur­rent trend lasts, the more dif­fi­cult it will be to stop. At some point, it may well be­come ir­re­versible — Ukraine has Be­larus as a per­fect illustration of this prospect.

Ukrainian so­ci­ety has sev­eral dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tional groups that can be nar­rowed down to two main cat­e­gories. The first one in­cludes Ukrainian-speak­ers, those who oc­ca­sion­ally speak Rus­sian, and eth­nic Rus­sians and other eth­nic mi­nori­ties who don’t mind the fact that their chil­dren, and grand­chil­dren will even­tu­ally speak Ukrainian and leave the Rus­sian world. The sec­ond group in­cludes eth­nic Rus­sians, other rus­si­fied mi­nori­ties, and Ukraini­ans who, for what­ever rea­sons, re­ject a Ukrainian iden­tity and have made a de­lib­er­ate choice in fa­vor of a Rus­sian one. This sec­ond group pri­mar­ily sees the restora­tion of em­pire in the post-soviet en­vi­ron­ment, in the form of a Eurasian union, a union of three “fra­ter­nal” na­tions, or Russki Mir. They re­ject the idea of a Ukrainian na­tion or a full-fledged, in­de­pen­dent Ukrainian state out of hand.

Many sur­veys show that the first group presents the ma­jor­ity both na­tion­wide and in most of Ukraine’s oblasts. It pro­vides the foun­da­tion for po­lit­i­cal forces that sup­port the preser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the

THE FIRST STEP TO­WARDS THIS IS STRICT UKRAINIZA­TION OF ALL PUB­LIC SER­VICES.

LACK OF UKRAINIAN LAN­GUAGE SKILLS SHOULD BLOCK AC­CESS TO PUB­LIC SEC­TOR JOBS

Ukrainian state, and a civ­i­liza­tional choice in fa­vor of Europe. This group is not ho­moge­nous and it’s not al­ways suf­fi­ciently aware of its national iden­tity, so it needs a proac­tive po­si­tion on the part of pro-Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal forces that it can sup­port. If such po­lit­i­cal forces can de­liver pos­i­tive in­no­va­tions in other ar­eas of life in Ukraine by re­form­ing the so­cio-eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal mod­els, they will be sup­ported even more.

The sec­ond group rep­re­sents a sub­stan­tial share of Ukraine’s pop­u­la­tion and con­sid­ers it­self a national mi­nor­ity, not an eth­nic one, iden­ti­fy­ing with a nascent Rus­sian po­lit­i­cal na­tion. In some parts of Ukraine, this group prob­a­bly con­sti­tutes a ma­jor­ity, al­though cen­suses and pollssug­gest that its true num­bers do not re­flect the po­ten­tial share of eth­no­lin­guis­tic groups in Ukraine’s so­ci­ety. That num­ber can only be es­tab­lished af­ter the “un­de­cided” part of Ukrainian so­ci­ety makes its choice. Since this group is pas­sive and op­por­tunis­tic, its choice will be deter­mined largely by post-colo­nial in­er­tia and the in­flu­ence of Rus­sian me­dia.

This is why Ukraine’s po­lit­i­cal play­ers to­day must de­cide whose in­ter­ests they will de­fend: those of the Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal na­tion or those of the Rus­sian national mi­nor­ity. For now, most of Ukraine’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of­fer only lip ser­vice and a rit­u­al­is­tic, for­malplace for the Ukrainian lan­guage while ac­cept­ing the ab­nor­mal dom­i­na­tion of Rus­sian in key spheres not as a tem­po­rary phase in Ukraine’s post-colo­nial process, but as com­pletely ac­cept­able de­vel­op­ment trend.

A STEP­PING-STONE TO IDEN­TITY

This sit­u­a­tion is not just about lan­guage, either. Rus­si­fi­ca­tion is both a means and an end for Rus­sian and soviet elites look­ing to gain dom­i­nant po­si­tions in Ukraine and con­tin­u­ally pull it back into the Eurasian space. Any ter­ri­to­rial pa­tri­o­tism that is not backed by lin­guis­tic and cul­tural self-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sooner or later turns into mere “re­gion­al­ism,” and ev­ery gen­er­a­tion finds it harder to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence be­tween their “lo­cal” iden­tity and the iden­tity of a neigh­bor­ing na­tion with the same lan­guage, many sim­i­lar tra­di­tions and a com­mon me­dia en­vi­ron­ment. Lan­guage is one of the key fac­tors in the abil­ity of or­di­nary Ukraini­ans to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween do­mes­tic and for­eign prod­ucts, which af­fects their abil­ity to re­sist out­side in­flu­ences.

What Ukraine needs is con­sis­tent lan­guage pol­icy ori­ented to­wards con­sol­i­dat­ing the po­lit­i­cal na­tion with the Ukrainian lan­guage as the ba­sic marker of iden­tity and the key in­stru­ment to over­come post-colo­nial in­er­tia. State lan­guage pol­icy needs to en­able Ukrainian cit­i­zens who were pre­vi­ously rus­si­fied by bru­tal force or in­di­rectly, or were de­prived of op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­cen­tives to learn the indige­nous lan­guage and to freely mas­ter the lan­guage of the coun­try they live in. In every­day life, most Rus­sian-speak­ing Ukraini­ans are not only loyal to Ukrainian but ac­tu­ally want to switch to it. How­ever, they have lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to do so in an en­vi­ron­ment that has been rus­si­fied for cen­turies. So, it’s up to the gov­ern­ment to en­sure proper ac­cess to me­dia prod­ucts in Ukrainian and to ex­pand the use of Ukrainian to a scale that can trans­form it into a prop­erly func­tion­ing state lan­guage from its cur­rent for­mal po­si­tion. The only way to ac­com­plish this is to make sure that mas­ter­ing the lan­guage is a must, with­out de­priv­ing in­di­vid­u­als of the chance to ful­fill them­selves while liv­ing in Ukraine.

The first step to­wards this is strict ukrainiza­tion of all pub­lic ser­vices. Lack of Ukrainian lan­guage skills should block ac­cess to pub­lic sec­tor jobs. At the same time, cour­ses in Ukrainian should be es­tab­lished wher­ever nec­es­sary. Mean­while, vi­o­la­tions of the lan­guage law in the pri­vate sec­tor should in­cur se­ri­ous fines, espe­cially when cus­tomers ad­dress ser­vice staff in Ukrainian. Any dis­crim­i­na­tion against Ukrainian-speak­ing em­ploy­ees or ap­pli­cants by em­ploy­ers or col­leagues should be treated as harshly as sex­ual abuse.

First and fore­most, how­ever, the fo­cus should fall on derus­si­fy­ing the me­dia and printed press. All TV and ra­dio chan­nels should broad­cast in Ukrainian ex­clu­sively. A few na­tion­wide and re­gional chan­nels can be­set aside for national mi­nori­ties. Post-im­pe­rial in­er­tia and the ex­pan­sion of Rus­sian-lan­guage prod­ucts in Ukraine have led to a sit­u­a­tion where real de­mand among read­ers is dis­torted. Most Ukraini­ans can read Ukrainian, but there sim­ply aren’t enough Ukraini­an­lan­guage prod­ucts, so they read Rus­sian prod­ucts in­stead. This leads to sup­ply driv­ing de­mand, a sit­u­a­tion that is un­ac­cept­able and dan­ger­ous when it comes to Ukrainian in Ukraine.

To de­fend the po­si­tion of the state lan­guage for a tran­si­tion pe­riod of 20 years, the gov­ern­ment needs to es­tab­lish a norm re­quir­ing all print pe­ri­od­i­cals cir­cu­lat­ing in Ukraine to have a Ukrainian-lan­guage ver­sion of their prod­uct, with at least an equal num­ber of copies in Ukrainian and Rus­sian avail­able at ev­ery point of sale. This is the only way to over­come post-colo­nial in­er­tia where de­mand is en­forced by sup­ply and the ac­tual pref­er­ences of Ukraini­ans are not re­flected.

IN EVERY­DAY LIFE, MOST RUS­SIAN-SPEAK­ING UKRAINI­ANS ARE NOT ONLY LOYAL TO UKRAINIAN BUT AC­TU­ALLY WANT TO SWITCH TO IT.

HOW­EVER, THEY HAVE LIT­TLE OP­POR­TU­NITY TO DO SO IN AN EN­VI­RON­MENT THAT HAS BEEN RUS­SI­FIED FOR CEN­TURIES

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