Funds will increase for regional and local language and for national minorities cultures.
A new law on state language policy was adopted in 2012, but triggered protests resulting in new proposals.
5.1.9 Language laws
The main principles of language policy of Ukraine are presented and defined in the Constitution of Ukraine and laws of Ukraine: Law on Languages, Law on Education, Law on Pre-School Education, Law on Secondary Education, Law on Vocational Technical Training, Law on Higher Education, Law on National Minorities in Ukraine, Law on Information, Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, Law on Publishing, and Law on Printed Media (Press) in Ukraine. Besides, there are numerous normative and legal documents and government programmes formulating public policies in the area of national language and languages of national minorities.
Since 2005, the State Committee on Nationalities and Religions (now a department of the Ministry of Culture) has had a special budget for implementing partially the provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages concerning the protection of languages in the area of culture and information. In 2007-2008, budget funds for these expenses constituted annually UAH 963 000 (about 150 000 EUR) but in 2009, due to the economic situation, such costs were reduced by 10 times to UAH 96 300. The significant increase in these costs in 2012 (about UAH 1 980 000) will be continued in the 2013 Budget which envisages growth in expenditure for the Charter on Regional and Local Languages' implementation and support for national minorities cultures (to about UAH 2.5 million) (see also the chapter 4.2.5).
State TV companies located in the regions have special language quotas on programmes broadcast in the languages of national minorities. This provision is found in the laws on national minorities. In general, TV and Radio companies in 17 regions broadcast for national minorities, in particular, in Transcarpathian, Zhytomyr, Odessa, Chernivtsi, Crimea, Lviv, Donetsk and other regions. The Transcarpathian Regional State TV and Radio Company (RSTRC) has TV and radio editorial staffs broadcasting in Hungarian, Slovak, German, Romanian, Polish and Roma languages. The total annual volume of TV / Radio programmes in Hungarian constitutes 92/164 hours, in Slovak – 48/48 hours, in Romanian – 95/112 hours, and in German – 40/32 hours. Zhytomyr RSTRC broadcasts in Polish and Czech and the State TV and Radio Company "Crimea" broadcasts in Crimean-Tatar, Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek and German languages. The Chernivtsi RSTRC has a special creative formation of TV and radio programmes in Romanian. The Odessa RSTRC broadcasts in Moldavian, Bulgarian and Gagauz languages and the radio company "News of Transdniestria" prepares special broadcasts in the Moldavian, Bulgarian, Jewish, Gagauz, Greek and Byelorussian languages. Mariupol TV in Donetsk region broadcasts in Greek, and the radio company "Independence" in Lviv region broadcasts in Polish (Source: State Committee of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, 2010).
The new law on the principles of the state language policy in Ukraine, approved in August 2012, triggered protests in different parts of Ukraine, and some regional and local councils made a decision not to implement it on their territories. The President Viktor Yanukovych declared in January 2013 that the adoption of actual, modern laws in the linguistic area is one of the most important objectives and that existing law should be improved and amended. With this aim the working group in charge of drawing up proposals to improve laws regulating the use of languages in the country was established consisting of well-known public figures and prominent educational, scientific and cultural experts specialising in language issues.
The Law on Language policy, authored by parliamentarians Vadym Kolesnichenko and Serhiy Kivalov from the Party of Regions, was adopted by parliament in July 2012 and came into force on 8 August, after the President signed the bill.
Under the law, Ukrainian is the official language. The official language is used all over the territory of Ukraine by the agencies representing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of power, in international agreements, in the education process, within limits and according to the procedures stipulated in the law. Under the document, the government will also assist in the use of the official language in the media, science, culture, and other spheres of public life.
The law also provides that regional or minority languages include Russian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Armenian, Gagauz, Yiddish, Crimean Tatar, Moldovan, German, Greek, Polish, Romani, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, Rusyn, Karaim and Krymchak.
According to the document, if the number of native speakers of one of these languages is 10% or more of the population of the territory in which the language is used, then measures aimed at use of regional and minority languages will apply.
In separate cases local councils will decide whether a national minority language can be used if the number of speakers of this language is not less than 10% in the relevant territory.
MPs split Ukraine adopting the language law written not for the whole country, but only for a part of it, commented the head of the Constitutional assembly, President of Ukraine (1991-1994) Leonid Kravchuk to ForUm, an influential informational analytical resource (http://www.for-ua.com).
"Many people remember that the language law was adopted with various violations. Thus, this caused heated debates in society. Many Ukrainians were disappointed. And the deputies adopting the law went on vacation leaving this gift with the President," he said.
"Now, in response to requests and demands of the people, Viktor Yanukovych established the working group to amend the language law," Kravchuk said.
The working group formed by the President in 2012 has prepared a new version of the document. Lawmakers have even decided to change the name of the law, transforming it into the law on application of languages in Ukraine. The bill retains the status of Ukrainian as the state language and contains measures to protect it. In particular, the use of the state language is compulsory in courts and paperwork, in the activities of public authorities, the armed forces, science and education, and advertising fields. The law establishes the 75 percent quota for broadcasting in the Ukrainian language (now - 25%) of the total daily broadcast. Broadcasting of programmes and films in other languages must be accompanied by Ukrainian dubbing or subtitling. The document does not provide for obtaining regional status by the languages of national minorities. It indicates that the members of territorial communities, speaking certain minority language, may initiate "measures to protect it," providing there are at least 30% of native speakers out of the total number of inhabitants of a settlement. Now, the recognition of the regional languages is permitted in the settlements, where the share of native speakers is at least 10%.
"We have completely changed the concept of protection of regional languages. The native speakers of such languages may file their proposal to the local authorities, who, in turn, will have to file them to the regional councils and then to the Verkhovna Rada, which is to adopt the law on promotion and protection of regional languages," one of the law authors Serhiy Holovaty said. It is assumed that in case the Parliament adopts a law to support a particular language in a particular area, it will be allowed to use it in all the areas along with the state one (see also chapter 4.2.5).