Oppressing Russians could backfire
Ukraine should think twice before taking rights away from its Russian minority, said Oleg Tkachuk. The parliament is considering a bill that will mandate the use of the Ukrainian language, and not Russian, in all public places. Never mind that nearly 1 in 6 people in Ukraine speak Russian as a first language. When the bill becomes law, which is likely, all news broadcasts will have to be in Ukrainian, and any public events, including cultural and sporting events in majority-Russian towns in the east, will be required to have Ukrainian-speaking announcers. All government business, even at the local level, must be conducted in Ukrainian—including in schools and hospitals—and all signage must be in Ukrainian. Political scientist Andrei Yermolayev says such a draconian restriction of minority-language rights amounts to a “dictatorial decision” that will effectively “silence many journalists, politicians, and political scientists.” Nationalists who are promoting passage of this law may yet regret it. Such an overt oppression of the Russian minority could be seen in Moscow as provocative. Surely Ukraine doesn’t want more Russian nationalist uprisings, like the ones in Crimea and the eastern Donbass region, which resulted in Russian occupation? Poke the bear and it will bite.