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Historical reference

Russians are one of the autochthonous nations of Ukraine. Russian culture along with ukrainian and byelorussian ones take their origin in Ancient Rus (the state was established in IX century). Russians along with ukrainians took part in the process of further forming of the contemporary Ukrainian State territory. Both russians and ukrainians populated territories of Eastern and Southern Ukraine in XV-XIX centuries (Sumy, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhje, Kherson, Nikolaev, Kirovograd, Odessa regions and Krimea). Local settlements were formed in those regions both in villages and in cities. Since XVII-XVIII centuries russians have been living in the regions of Central and in part Western Ukraine (Volyn, Rovno, Khmelnitsky regions) when those territories became part of Russia. Considerable part of russians settled in Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, Ternopol, Chernovtsy and Transcarpathians regions after World War II.

Quantity of ukrainian population who consider Russian to be their mother tongue (according to the census of 1989):

regions quantity in mln of people % of the population
Western Ukraine
(5 regions)
8,7 52
South Ukraine
(6 regions )
5,3 48
Central Ukraine
(7 regions)
2,2 17
Western Ukraine
(8 regions)
0,7 6
UKRAINE 16,9 34

Up-to-date situation

Since the declaration of ukrainian independence in 1991 russians gained status of national minority. This was confirmed by the Law "About national minorities in Ukraine" adopted in 1992.
Along with difficulties with adaptation to the new status ukrainian russians have lots of subjective problems regarding their own identification. Ukrainian nationalistic organizations seriously influence state policy, they have unitarist and ethnocratic approach to the solution of national minorities problems. In recent years it has led to the trend of destruction of language and cultural environment of russian population of Ukraine.
On the one hand, both in Ukrainian Constitution and in the Law "About languages" Russian is set out from other languages and is acnowledged the second important language after Ukrainian. On the other hand, the judgment of The Constitutional Court of Ukraine made on the 14 of December 1999 narrowed the sphere of action of Russian language. The use of Russian even there where Russians are vast majority of the population has only permission character and decision regarding use of Russian is made by local authorities. There were lots of protests against draft of resolution, offered at the beginning of the year 2000 by the ukrainian government, "About additional mesures for expanding of the sphere of usage of Ukrainian language", which actualy ment narrowing of the sphere of usage of Russian language.
At the same time on the 24 of December 1999 Verhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted The Law "About ratification of European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages", which precisely determines language rights of citizens in conformity with their percentage in the population of a certain administrative and territorial unit. Unfortunately, this fact is being hushed up by the organs executive power, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is delaying handing over of the instrument of ratification for deposition to the European Councel.
Trends of excluding of Russian language are clearly expresed in the in the sphere of education. Espacially this relates to secondary schools. Since 1996 to 2000 quantity of russian schools in Ukraine decreased from 2940 russian schools (13.8% of whole quantity of schools) to 2399 russian schools (about 10% of all scools in Ukraine). The decrease in quantity of textbooks in Russian has the same rate: there were 2mln. 685thousand of them in 1996 and 2mln. 106thousand in 2000.
Despite having considerable amount of russian scools and students who are being taught in Russian, there is basic tendency towards systematical and wide excluding of Russian language from the sphere of education. In fact it is being made by way of administrative change of the school status, by stopping taking children to first grades with Russian language of teaching. Along with this the principle of proportionality is being violated regarding educational needs of russian population. For instance, there were 107 russian schools in Odessa in 1996-97 academic year that corresponded to the part of russian population of the city (73%). In 1998-99 academic year this quantity was reduced to 51 (36%), and in 2000 further decrease in quantity of russian schools came up to 46 (32%). According to the census of 1989 in Kharkov more than 72% of the population acnowledged Russian language as their mother tongue. In conformity with that fact there were 46 ukrainian, 50 bilingual and 91 russian schools in the city. But in 1997/98 academic year the scools were changed in such a way that now there are 60 russian schools, 33 bilingual and quantity of ukrainian schools have doubled since than and now there are 97 of them. In Kiev where ethnical russian population is 21% there are only 19 russian schools (6%) from 324 schools, and in 9 of them junior grades are being taught in Ukrainian. There are only 13 russian schools in eight regions of Western Ukraine where there are 740 thousands of russian population. There are no russian schools in Rovno and Ternopol regions, there is only one school in Volyn, Ivano-Frankovsk, Khmelnitsky, Ternopol, Kiev and Cherkassy regions.
According to the official data of the year 2000 there are 35% of students who use Russian language in their studies in higher educational esteblishments. This indicator is also decreasing. Moreover, higher educational esteblishments where students are being taught completely or in part in Russian are located only in Eastern and in Southern regions of the country. There are no any academic groups in western and central regions with the Russian language of teaching, with the exception of a few departments of Russian philology. There is a problem of training of teachers for Russian schools in these regions.
We can also notice the tendency of narrowing of the area of functioning of Russian language in the sphere of culture. From 82 state theatres, which were in Ukraine in the middle of 1990s, there were 24 russian theatres, and other 20 theatres had both russian and ukrainian troups. The quantity of russian theatres have been reduced up to 14 in the year 2000, which is 17% of the total quantity of theatres. There is only one russian theatre in Western Ukraine.
Russian repertoire is being excluded from philharmonic societies, cultural centers and other establishments. Russian books almost don't come to ukrainian libraries.
There is only one of five state television channels that showes most part of russian programs - "Inter", which belongs to private and social structures. State radio broadcasts its programs only in Ukrainiane.
There are no any all-ukrainiane state newspapers in Russian language with the exception of russian copies of parliament and government newspapes "Voice of Ukraine" and "Government Courier". Institutions of local authorities in Eastern and Southern regions issue their newspapers in Russian.

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