Kiev forces Russian-language media to publish in Ukrainian

The new publishing law does not recognize Russian as a country’s language

Russian-language media in Ukraine will now be forced to publish a secondary version in the country’s official language under a new law that selectively bans “foreign” language publications that are not accompanied by a translation.

According to the law, which was passed in 2019 but entered into force on Sunday, all print media must publish a Ukrainian version on the same day, with the same name, content and volume.

Although Russian is a common native language in much of Ukraine and predominant in many cities in the east and south of the country, no exceptions have been granted to it by law. Instead, these were assigned to Crimean Tatar, the languages ​​of some indigenous peoples of Ukraine, as well as English and all official EU languages. This means, for example, that a Polish document would not require translation. The same would even apply to the likes of Irish and Maltese, which probably have very few speakers in the country, apart from embassy staff.

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Those who break the law will face fines of up to 8,500 hryvnias ($300).

The publication rules are part of far-reaching legislation passed in 2019, championed by then-President Petro Poroshenko, who officially made Ukrainian the sole state language and decreed that it should be the primary language in many areas, including public administration, media and education. Many of its provisions were phased in over a few years. In 2020, all advertising switched to Ukrainian, as well as scientific and medical literature, and signs in public transport. In 2021, the requirement that all customer service must begin in Ukrainian was implemented.

Speaking to Ukrainian media outlet Strana last year, media veteran Sergey Cherniavsky suggested that a second print run would dramatically increase costs for all Russian-language media outlets, many of which are already facing financial difficulties in the era. online media. According to him, many of these companies will be forced to give up their publication in the Russian language or risk going bankrupt.

“In the case of the transition from print media to Ukrainian, business will suffer. In the future, this will lead to lower tax revenues and job losses,” said Chernyavsky.

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Sylvester L. Goldfarb