Language debate sparks fistfight in the Ukrainian Parliament

In 1991, after 69 years as a Soviet Republic, Ukraine became an independent state. Today Ukraine’s only national language is Ukrainian, even though many citizens still speak Russian. In the Ukrainian Parliament last week the President Viktor Yanukovych’s party proposed a new law to make Russian the second official language in the eastern regions of Ukraine (where much of the population is Russian-speaking). (The pink part to the right of Ukraine is Russia.) However, the opposition party blocked the bill from being introduced. Usually in the halls of government when we say “blocked”, we mean they vetoed or voted down the proposed bill. In this case, the parliamentarians physically blocked the podium; a brawl ensued that bloodied lawmakers and even sent one to the hospital with a head injury.

Language can be a contentious political issue because it can either unify or divide a nation. In the case of Ukraine, there is particular antagonism towards Russia because of the independent country’s former relationship with the USSR. Other former Eastern Bloc nations, like Slovakia and Croatia, also only have one official language. However, the Czech Republic has many official languages (including Russian) to accommodate their minority populations.

For another perspective on the political ramifications of official languages, let’s look to the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain, the issue of language can be very complex. Catalan (a language spoken by millions) was suppressed by the government in order to unify the country, but today has seen a resurgence due to the economic success of Catalonia (the region where it is spoken).  In Portugal, locals recently lobbied to make Mirandese, a near-extinct language, into an official language of the region in order to encourage more people to learn it.

Where will Russian be spoken? In space. Learn the full story here.

Do you think the Ukrainian Parliament should allow Russian to be the second official language? Can you think of other examples where a language brings people together—or tears them apart?


  1. Mike -  July 20, 2013 - 10:08 am

    I know that in southeastern Ukraine Russian, not Ukrainian is a dominant language after long subjugation of Ukraine by Russian imperialism in the past and as a result of past forceful artificial Russification of Ukraine. But in my view historical injustice to Ukraine by Russia must be rectified in all respects, and the Ukrainian language must again be the major language in southeastern Ukraine too because according to the last official census in Ukraine over 76% of citizens of Ukraine claimed to be of Ukrainian ethnicity. Russian linguistic imperialism on the territory of other nations outside Russia must end. It’s long long overdue. Of course Russian people in Ukraine can communicate in Russian between themselves and the Russian community in Ukraine must have opportunities to preserve their language and culture, but Russians living in Ukraine must also know and use Ukrainian in communication with Ukrainian people. I think Russians in Ukraine and the Russian authorities try to impose Russian as the main language in Ukraine even now, and to restrict the use of Ukrainian as much as possible by preserving the past Russification of Ukraine. It is long overdue to teach, to learn and to use more Ukrainian than Russian in the media and in institutions in Ukraine.

  2. KP -  April 29, 2013 - 8:44 am

    Ukrainian should remain Ukraine’s sole official language. There’s no good reason why someone living in UKRAINE should be speaking Russian! Ukrainian is close enough to Russian that it’s an easy switch to speak Ukrainian instead. Stubborn people who want to speak Russian should move to Russia, where there are plenty of places in that huge country to speak that language. If they love Russian that much, their loyalties are to Russia rather than Ukraine. Ukrainian for Ukraine and Russia for Russia.

  3. Oleksandra -  June 8, 2012 - 6:30 pm

    Be wise. Research Ukrainian history before saying anything. For centuries, Ukrainian language was humiliated by Russian government. For centuries, were Ukrainians called “little Russians”. Currently, millions of of kids and adults do not know their own Ukrainian language because all they were taught is Russian. If the Ukrainian language had at least the same status in the Ukraine as Russian language does, then maybe there should be some debate. Unless all Ukrainian schools start to teach their students in the Ukrainian language (and I am not talking about Russian schools in the Ukraine), no talk about second official language should be even considered.
    In this case, making Russian the second official language will divide a nation.

  4. mary torres -  June 4, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    heeey im so cool ur not lol jk im a fan of u 2 lol lol lol lol

  5. Dave -  May 29, 2012 - 5:35 pm

    This is silly. I get the sense that anti-Russian attitudes were at one point out of control among certain members of Ukrainian society, but I think it’s wearing old on a lot of people by now. I don’t believe that Russia oppressed or occupied Ukraine, but if it did, then it must also be true that England oppressed and occupied America. They did, at any rate, end up wiping out most of the Native American population. So, if we apply Ukrainian logic, Americans must be hopelessly out of touch that nearly 240 years after the American Revolution they haven’t figured out that they need to cast off the language of the evil English oppressors, and only then they will be able to live free and enjoy their own culture.

    • Loren -  August 11, 2015 - 12:40 pm

      In response to your comment: “240 years after the American Revolution they haven’t figured out that they need to cast off the language of the evil English oppressors, and only then they will be able to live free and enjoy their own culture.” LOL
      Ignorance is bliss.
      Your comparison turns the Ukraine problem on its head. Americans developed their own language and literature.
      What is happening in Ukraine is equivalent to the Brits coming into the US now and demanding the US adopt British English. Or for that matter if the Brits were to go to Ireland and demanding that the Irish adopt British English.

      There is no question about Russia oppressing Ukrainians and not only Ukrainians but others as its goal was to homogenize/assimilate all into Russians
      But what can you say, Russian chauvinists are just that chauvinists.They have been and are disrespectful of Ukraine and Ukrainians.

  6. That's right -  May 29, 2012 - 10:30 am

    Good comment, Bonnie!

  7. vitaliy lypyak -  May 29, 2012 - 9:36 am

    i do support what the Ukrainian government has done. most people who live in Ukraine already speak or already know have to speak the Russian language but i feel that this is just another way for the Russian government who is trying to divide the people of Ukraine onces again. it is annoying that Ukraine has this kinds of problem. yes i do believe in freedom but what ever you live you need a least learn the language.

  8. Dave -  May 29, 2012 - 9:31 am

    I suggesting English as a second language. It unites people under NATO umbrella.

  9. Kat -  May 29, 2012 - 9:17 am

    This is just messed up. Why is Ukraine one of the few lonely countries in the world to ever so willingly embrace the language of the oppressor? While other states try their best to purge their countries of any sign of a conqueror, Ukraine has a love affair with Russia… It didn’t do that for the Tatars or the Germans, but for some reason it allows Russia to constantly trample it.
    Ukrainian is the language of Ukraine. Instead of normalizing Russian, why not fund Ukrainian television programmes or cultural education? Why is Russian a required language course at school? No other country in the world permits that, it is the language of a state that spent hundreds of years pillaging and starving out our culture and people. It’s humiliating.
    If the majority of Ukraine speaks Russian, the government should concern itself more with that statistic and the cause of it. Ukrainian is beautiful, it should be preserved and encouraged; instead of being Russified and suppressed as some peasant derivative of a civil language.
    And I say this as a half Russian and Ukrainian. Russian people hold a lot of pride in their country and their language; maybe Ukraine should follow suit and gain some pride in their OWN culture and their OWN language. Millions of people died in the past fighting for the right to speak Ukrainian and live as a free Ukrainian, now we’re fighting for the right to do the opposite. Such a shame.

  10. Verde -  May 29, 2012 - 8:30 am

    A friend of mine went to Ukraine to visit one friend twice and has since then reported me some of the stories that he heard about the Russian presence in there.

    Have you ever heard something about Holodomor? As many as seven million Ukrainians starved to death just because Soviet communists prevented them from eating the food they planted and harvested. I mean, Soviets came to Ukraine and ordered the farmers to send to government everything they produced. Literally everything. Otherwise, the farmers would be killed by some friendly marxist bloke.

    Another story told was that of the behavior of Russians in big Ukrainian cities. Having earned huge amounts of money, they spend them purchasing sophisticated cars, fashionable clothing and dazzling jewelry to flaunt to the common population. And surely they aren’t all for the Ukrainian culture, I mean, they are not worried about being integrated to the customs and language of population.

    I’m against it, frankly. Ukrainians seem to be a very easy-going and nice people and they definitely didn’t get along with all the politics Soviets had imposed to them. Let Ukrainian be the only de jus language of Ukraine. And that Russians put an effort to learn it!

  11. Christopher -  May 29, 2012 - 7:31 am

    No the Ukrainian parliament should not allow Russian to become a secondary official language of the country. The reality is that many Ukrainians still feel animosity towards their Eastern neighbors for atrocities committed during World War II. These animosities are understandable to anyone who knows the detailed history, for a brief explanation see the movie “Between Stalin and Hitler”. Making the language official really does little to benefit the country and clearly sparks outrage from those who remain diametrically apposed to the idea. A simple cost benefit analysis reveals the nonsensical nature of this proposal. Let those in Ukraine who wish to speak Russian continue to do so but it’s unnecessary to muddy cultural and historical divides with homogenization of any kind up to and including language.

  12. John -  May 29, 2012 - 7:27 am

    It is seldom a disparate language that separates people, but the culture that language represents.

  13. john -  May 29, 2012 - 6:31 am

    Considering that Ukraine has been independent of Russia for about 20 of the last 200 years, and the Russian-speaking minority is trying to return the country to Russian domination, Ukrainians are justified in keeping Russian from any official status. Quebecois in Canada, a minority, refuse to speak English at all, but insist that the 85% majority must learn French.

  14. ks Iyer -  May 29, 2012 - 5:22 am

    Languages are assets for a competitive society. If if you know more languages, your reach goes longer and catches more friends. Hatred towards other languages is nothing but befooling ourselves. In India,speaking against other languages is Indian politicians way of life. So let us not hoodwinked by bad politicians. Let us be good human being and make more and more friends and make the globe a friendly place for all .

  15. Stephania -  May 29, 2012 - 3:17 am

    I believe Ukraine should keep Ukrainian as their official language. As a Ukrainian living outside its borders, I learned the language from my family, who learned it from my university educated great-grandfather. This was just before soviet occupation, so what he learned was the proper structured form of the language. Our family was displaced and forced to emigrate to several countries, and change our last names in order to keep under the Soviet radar. Thus, several generations have learned ‘proper’ or ‘true’ Ukrainian. When I see or speak to distant relatives, I hear them speak two languages, not one, and a part of me is sad to think that a large part of out cultural identity is being stripped due to Russia’s former occupation.

  16. ColinB -  May 29, 2012 - 2:44 am

    Reading these comments, I conclude that very few people actually understand what is meant by an “official” language. If some of the arguments here were to be applied to the USA, then the native American languages, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Creole and a whole host of others would have to be “official” languages of the USA with all the concommitant practical problems. Any minority may speak its own language without let or hinderance, whether or not it is an “official” language of the country concerned, that is legitimate and how it should be.

  17. Agkcrbs -  May 29, 2012 - 1:50 am

    Russians forced Ukraine to assimilate Russian, and the Russian-speakers know it; they know their side did wrong. To suddenly erase history and impute the language equal status is to say to Ukraine, “Russia’s oppression of your land and culture was fair, and its results deserve to be upheld”… when, in reality, it was not fair, and they do not deserve to be upheld.

    When you arrest a guy for theft, you don’t scold him but let him keep the money and go home, just to maintain the peace. You rather seek equity for the owners; you restore what was taken. Ukraine should and must seek equity, and ignore the irrelevant views of uninformed outsiders who were never victims, and are so quick to forget the crimers of distant victimisers.

    The alternative? Abandon justice, exonerating the past wrongdoings enforced by military might, until the culturally aggrieved get so resentful that they take matters into their own hands, to make their own expressions of military might. No; it’s better to answer the wrong and soothe the victim than to pretend away the wrong by stupidly wishing for a false equality that was already forfeited by the aggressors. Let a true equality return; redress the wrong; and tensions will dissipate. Let Ukrainian remain the aknowledged owner of its own home. Russia’s ambitions, after all, did not evaporate with its last empire; they’re alive and well. To prove it, just take a look at its brand-new life-time ruler.

  18. Tanya -  May 29, 2012 - 1:10 am

    Croatia has never been in the Eastern Bloc, but an ex-Yugoslav federal unit. Yugoslavia was non-alligned country.

  19. hanisah -  May 29, 2012 - 12:54 am

    huh? i dont get it?

  20. Vera -  May 29, 2012 - 12:00 am

    The fact about the Czech Republic having many official languages is nonsense. The only official language in the CR is Czech, in some circumstances Slovak is accepted. But the other nationalities need to have an interpreter to be able to deal with Czech authorities and they need to deal in Czech.
    But thanks for interesting article and long live all languages!

  21. April -  May 28, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    Well, good for Ukraine if that really does help them… However I think the world as a whole needs to move towards finding a language that will be used by everyone, equally. Might I suggest English as it is already widely used due to the business practice known as out-sourcing?

    The language issues of the world are making it near impossible for everyone to get along/understand each other so that getting along is easier.

    I personally got to see the effects of language barriers right in the heart of California. It’s not pretty and can cause issues in the classroom.

  22. Raya -  May 28, 2012 - 8:34 pm

    It is one thing to have an official language, as it is an essential means of communications and unify publications, perhaps. But, it is completely a different case to abandon a language and oppress its speakers; especially, when the reason for its abandoning is strictly political. It is [second, third, etc spoken language] at minimum part of that country’s history. I’m a little skeptical towards governments that try to deviate or deny historical factors and events as opposed to appreciate them as part of its identity.
    A common language unifies believes and traditions, yet, it is not necessarily the only element for national identity per se, otherwise; we’ll be running the problem of the birth of new countries based on regional dialects!

  23. Ed Montaño -  May 28, 2012 - 4:34 pm

    Well, language has always played an important role in terms of unifying or separating people from the same country. Examples of both cases may be Canada, Belgium, Ukraine, China, India, Middle Eastern countries, and in my country Mexico where Amerindians are discriminated for not speaking Spanish.

  24. Tim Kramar -  May 28, 2012 - 3:08 pm

    The Phillipine Islands have a large number of languages, but I believe that Tagalog somehow won out as the most prevalent, or what foreign speakers are most likely to learn.

  25. Tori -  May 28, 2012 - 3:03 pm

    Most of you are disregarding the amount of contempt Ukraine must feel for the Russians after the heavy amount of abuse they have received. Even if not this, they amount of desire they must feel to establish their own identities as a nation after the years of oppression they faced.

  26. Mike Bart -  May 28, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    yes it should allow Russian to be the second official language in Ukraine because one time it was only spoken Russian and its better to talk in Russian than in Ukraine language.

  27. foxy -  May 28, 2012 - 10:20 am

    i wonder whats for DINNER?

  28. JR -  May 28, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Language is very closely connected to cultural identity. ‘Offical languages’ have been hot topics of debate in many cultures from the beginning of time and still dominate political and private discussions today. The pictures from the Ukarianian parliament only confirm this one more time. The fact of the matter is that, objectively speaking, it is easy to see merit in both sides of the debate. As for what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’,I fear that it is very difficult for outsiders, i.e. non-Ukrainians, with no ‘first-hand’ knowledge of the history involved and actual implications, to say.

  29. Born in Ukraine -  May 28, 2012 - 8:26 am

    I was born in Ukraine and to honestly tell you, all the people who live in cities speak Russian, barely anyone speaks Ukranian. Ukranian is widely spoken in small towns, cities, etc. I really don’t think it would matter if they vetoed the bill or not. In schools, both Russian and Ukranian is taught, which I think should be kept as tradition. People need to learn their native language. Russian and Ukranian are very similar, so I think both should be taught in schools, as they are now. Thanks for reading.

  30. MGEO -  May 28, 2012 - 7:59 am

    Ukrainian language was not prohibited during Soviet times, in fact, many good books of foreign authors were available only in Ukrainian. Russian language was actively growing in greater Ukraine because bulk of technical literature, movies, TV shows in the Soviet union were in Russian. It means, in order to be in touch with the world, one needed to speak Russian. Though at home Ukrainians of Ukrainian descent spoke their native tongue and Ukrainians of Russian descent spoke their native tongue.

    Ukraine is a young country without habits and traditions of building its ows state and society. This causes a lot of teenager’s paranoia in the language issue. To my knowledge, the proposed bill was not to make Russian a second official language but to allow its use in courts, social services and education in the regions with considerable Russian-speaking population.
    You don’t want pensioners in Donetsk who are mostly Russian-speaking to learn Ukrainian to talk to their family doctors.

  31. Marianna -  May 28, 2012 - 7:46 am

    ‘Official language’ for Ukraine means only one thing: the language of official documents and negotiations, though even for the latter Russian is sometimes used and nobody sees any problem with this. Making Russian an official language will make Ukrainian political and economic systems even messier than they are now… though sometimes it seems impossible. That to say, it will make things worse for all people, including those who speak Russian at home.

    ‘Make Russian second official’ is the slogan of politicians who want to get support from Russia in this way, it has nothing to do with people’s feelings.

  32. jahhdog -  May 28, 2012 - 4:54 am

    Let them speak Russian but keep the official language Ukrainian.

    The history of the former USSR outlawing Ukrainian and any use of Ukrainian is what is driving this debate. A lot of the Ukrainians have a bad taste in their mouths from decades of Soviet oppression. .

    On the other hand they could let the people decide in a referendum. If the people want it they will vote for it!


  33. enzo -  May 28, 2012 - 2:14 am

    Long Live Ukranian as the National Language!

    This is the time to support all regional languages, national languages, and dialects — not to push people towards an artificial homogenization


  34. V -  May 28, 2012 - 1:04 am

    In my country (Ireland), our native language was all but obliterated by British colonialism. During the penal laws of the 17th century, it was illegal to speak or teach Irish. This was a weapon in a process of forced cultural assimilation – a process which cannot be undone. This is still a source of bitterness today. Despite practical arguments in favour of making Russian an official language in Ukraine, the injuries of the past are still raw and emotions run high.

    Ukraine seems caught between west-leaning and east-leaning political alignments, and language itself can become an important symbol in that struggle. Yanukovych is known for his eastern-leaning tendencies and were Russian to be established as an official language, it would be a clear signal to Moscow. That is what really lies behind the actions of the opposition when they physically blocked the bill.

  35. Jordi -  May 28, 2012 - 12:59 am

    I appreciated the comment on Catalan. I agree that there is a will, against all odds, of the Catalan speakers to keep their language alive. Or it isn’t much of a choice, is it? Would you change your religion, customs, in order to fit in the picture with the big neighbour?
    On the other hand, your comment says that the renaissance of our Catalan language is linked to economic success. ‘Twas in the past. Not now. Right now, like many parts of Europe we’re going through a low ebb in economic terms that is going to take an extra effort and resilience and ingenuity.
    Respect and treasure all languages.

  36. Alareshú -  May 27, 2012 - 11:21 pm

    …Or we could just all skip this and choose no official language?

    :D Can’t blame me for trying.

    Anyway, Ukraine, grow up. I know, Russian had gotten a bad rap over time but languages don’t necessarily reflect the speakers of said language, and if there is a considerable population that speaks it, then add it. You don’t have to enforce making people learn it or anything, just…acknowledge it. Maybe it’s just easy for me to say that, living in the middle of New York City and all….

  37. rustigsmed -  May 27, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    the old official language debate.

    probably important in promoting languages in decline, such as the celtic languages and Mirandese. or where, language is used to persecute peoples, otherwise not that important. countries like Australia have no official language.

  38. Eric -  May 27, 2012 - 10:04 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Slovakia and Czech Republic were in the Soviet Union. I was stationed in Bratislava for 14 months and became intimate with their culture. As a matter of fact, in 2010, the Slovak government made a demonstration on Hviezdoslavovo square, in Bratislava, by commemorating all of the lives lost where citizens of the country tried to escape Soviet control. They took the barbed wire from the fence separating Austria and the then USSR and wrapped it into a giant heart. They then placed that heart where many Soviets had gunned down people trying to escape underneath Devin castle at the border of Slovakia and Austria. That heart is still there today. I have also many other unfortunate stories that I have heard from the people there, and I keep learning of more. My fiance is Slovak and Hungarian, and I visit there often. Guys…don’t confuse yourself with Eastern Block and USSR as separate terms. the USSR was one entity and there are no other explanations about it. When Stalin and his troops came down to take over a country, they took it over and assumed full control. The Soviets accepted nothing less than full control. Take care,


  39. Yuri Kryachko -  May 27, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    The Ukrainian national-patriots contradict themselves. They want a united independent state, but they also want a single official language. However, there are in fact two main languages in Ukraine – Ukrainian and Russian. Russian-speakers sometimes cannot feel like Ukraine is their native state because their language is not official (in this situation they rather think that Russia, not Ukraine is their native state). If both Ukrainian and Russian are recognized as official languages, then definitely a majority of population will treat Ukraine like their real motherland. Therefore, making Russian an official language will help unite and strengthen Ukraine; and for this reason the Ukrainian national-patriots should support the idea of making Russian an official language.

  40. miss fab -  May 27, 2012 - 4:51 pm

    Sometimes I just wish the whole world spoke one language.

  41. Pedja G. -  May 27, 2012 - 3:24 pm

    One important correction should be made in this text. CROATIA WAS NEVER A MEMBER OF EASTERN BLOCK NATIONS! Before its independence in 1991, Croatia was a part of Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was never a member of any political or military block! In fact, it was together with Egypt and India, a founder of Non-Aligned Movement. The movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961 and it consisted of states considering themselves NOT ALIGNED FORMALLY WITH OR AGAINST ANY MAJOR POWER BLOC. The movement currently numbers 120 member countries and 17 observer countries.

  42. Mikhail -  May 27, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    The modern Ukrainian ultra-nationalism is a bit silly. The article mentions “In 1991, after 69 years as a Soviet Republic, Ukraine became an independent state” that is a bit misleading. It is the first time it became an independent state, before that it was part of the Russian empire for hundreds of years (and part of the Polish state as well). Crimea was never part of Ukraine either until it was gifted to the Ukrainian SSR. Stubbornly ignoring their past, and the part of the population which primarily speaks Russian foolishly divides the nation.

    And to one of the previous comments about Russia (USSR) sending in people to destabilize the states, thats ignorant. Why would they need or want to destabilize a region that they controlled?

  43. An Old Black Marble -  May 27, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    I think the issue with language in Ukraine is a little different than in most countries since here the wounds are still fresh. The Ukrainians have been under Russian subjugation for hundreds of years ,and it’s only been in the last 20 years that Ukraine has been independent. Think about that, just since the early 90s. Most people there still remember living under Soviet oppression, and they know their history, and it is a very painful one with Russia being the main pain maker. So anything that would seem to give Russians authority over them they will reject passionately. I think it is too early for Ukraine to have dual official languages. The country is still very unstable. I think once Ukraine grows stronger and it is confident in its economy and identity it will have no problem having other official languages, but in until then the country needs to mature under one identity.

  44. -  May 27, 2012 - 11:24 am

    “In another part of Spain, locals recently lobbied to make Mirandese, a near-extinct language, into an official language of the region in order to encourage more people to learn it.”
    Please, let you review this. In fact, Miranda do Douro is a small town in the northeast Portugal – just google Miranda do Douro, Portugal. Besides having Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho, Portugal is a nine century independent nation, occupying with his “brother” Spain the Iberian Peninsula, which the romans used to call Hispania.
    So, if you replace, in the quoted paragraph, the name of the country, I believe the rest is acceptable. Anyhow, if wanted, I could link you to a specialist in this language – the mirandese, the second official language in Portugal.
    Moreover, I noticed that your linked article ”A language spoken in only one town” seems to be correct. Thanks.

  45. Lucas -  May 27, 2012 - 10:48 am

    No. Ukrainian language should be the only official language, otherwise Russians living in Ukraine would have no incentive to speak or learn Ukrainian. Most Ukrainians know Russian any way, so this does not work both ways.

    Just as a reminder, Ukrainian language was prohibited for writing or book publishing for decades by Russians. That’s where the roots of the language issue come from.

  46. Yugoslav -  May 27, 2012 - 9:51 am

    Correction: Croatia (or more precisely Yugoslavia), although a communist country, was not a part of the Soviet Bloc. Tito’s Yugoslavia was a member of the third bloc, the Non-Aligned Movement.

  47. Jenna -  May 27, 2012 - 8:16 am

    Woah Ukraine. What up there with the language freak out? I think that they should allowed Russian to be the second official language. I understand that there are some serious connections to a not-so-wonderful past, but the fact is that a lot of people there speak Russian. It makes sense. Above all, there was no reason to physically fight for it!

  48. SungHee Kim -  May 27, 2012 - 7:36 am

    I believe whatever comes their favor is Ukrainians future. I respect in both side their own authenticity. However it will be good for future generations come for have two official language with in one nation.

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  50. konrad -  May 27, 2012 - 7:05 am

    Neither Slovakia, nor Croatia were Soviet republics. They both lay in the Soviet zone, yes; saying that they were Soviet republics is a strong misconception, though. The term Soviet republic is reserved for the countries which were part of the USSR which was a sort of of federation of particular “soviet-run” countries (soviet means people’s council). In practice however, they were all run from Moscow as the USSR was de facto one state. Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are European countries which can be dubbed former Soviet republics. The rest of Central-Eastern Europe (i.e. Poland, Czechoslovakia (which then split), Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and East Germany) were never part of the USSR but were within the so called Soviet Block or Eastern Block, which meant being in practive dependent on Moscow’s influence. Former Yugoslavia (part of which is Croatia) another story- they were a communist state as well, but they chose to go their own way and never accepted the Soviet dominant position.

  51. Yards -  May 27, 2012 - 6:51 am

    I like Ukraine, because ukraine is a nice country

  52. Greg Sedmak -  May 27, 2012 - 6:22 am

    Croatia was not a former soviet republic. It was a republic in the former Yugoslavia. Also Slovakia was a part of a Soviet satellite state called Czechoslovakia. Never part of the Soviet Union. You should use Kazakhstan or Georgia as examples of ex-soviet republics.

  53. Ellen -  May 27, 2012 - 5:02 am

    I love the way this website is so much more intelligent than Yahoo.

  54. JP -  May 27, 2012 - 3:21 am

    “In this case, the parliamentarians physically blocked the podium; a brawl ensued that bloodied lawmakers and even sent one to the hospital with a head injury.”
    Funny indeed!

  55. Tori -  May 26, 2012 - 11:32 pm

    I understand the nationalistic intent of what the government decided, and I understand the hostility toward the language of the nation that once oppressed the people (forgotten the Ukranian famine?) So it is easy to see why they would restrain from making the Russian language a part of their national identities. Blocking the bill establishes the Ukranian independence.

  56. Max -  May 26, 2012 - 11:14 pm

    Stupid people. Kazakhstan has Kazakh as its official language, and Russian as its 2nd official and nobody has problems. Instead of growing separatist movements, try to unite. I don’t see any problem with having Ukrainian as the 1st, and Russian (on some parts) as the 2nd official language in Ukraine. Keep in mind that loooots of people speak both, and Russian is the first language for looots of them.

  57. Martin Bermea -  May 26, 2012 - 9:39 pm

    I think the people themselves decide what to do with a language. What does “making it official” mean? Switzerland has four official languages, yet one of these is spoken by less than 50,000 people. Mexico has one official language, and yet 15 million mexicans speak some of the 60 indian languages, many of them with more than 100,000 speakers. In Mexico, official language means the government will carry out all of its dealings in the official language, it also means the public schools will teach it widely to make communication easier. Some public schools in Mexico teach the indian languages but the instruction in these languages stops at 6th grade. Mathematics, science, etc. is taught in Spanish. I think having one official language makes it easy for everyone to communicate. In my country I know people who speak Náhuatl at home, Spanish at work, and English with foreigners.
    Tlascamate, Gracias, Thank you.

  58. Heikki Kauppi -  May 26, 2012 - 8:35 pm

    A further bit of information: of the former Soviet republics Kazakstan (with 24% Russians), Kyrgyzstan (9%), Belarus (8%) and Russia itself (81%) recognize Russian as an official language, but also Latvia (27%), Estonia (25%), Moldova (9%), Georgia (9%), Lithuania (5%) and Uzbekistan (5%) have sizable Russian minorities. In Ukraina 17% of the population speaks Russian as their mother tongue.

  59. Justin Kisch -  May 26, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    Oops, I take that back. Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia whereas Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia, but my point still stands.

  60. Justin Kisch -  May 26, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    I don’t think it’s accurate to refer to Slovakia and Croatia as former “Soviet” republics. They were part of the former Yugoslavia, not the USSR.

  61. Darya -  May 26, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    First of all, it’s not THE Ukraine. It’s just Ukraine. The capital is Kiev.

    Well, there are a lot of people speaking Russian, but I feel that if we allow Russian to be the second official language that may start making Russians want to take over Ukraine again. Just my personal opinion.

  62. Debbie K. -  May 26, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    I believe that Ukraine should make their second official language Russian, because as stated above, most of the population speaks that language, so why not make it official? Why shouldn’t they make it known to the world that Russian is spoken more than Ukrainian in Ukraine instead of keeping it a secret? It’s not like anyone is going to make fun of them just because less people speak the countries language? So, what’s the point of keeping it undercover if it’s something that people can find out very easily. Sometimes, the government doesn’t make any sense.

  63. GalacticPresidentSuperstarMcAwesomeVille -  May 26, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    TERRIBLE Idea. Here in Canada the English-French debate has torn us all apart like crazy. Both groups are too arrogant to learn the other’s language and believe their language should be “the” official one of Canada. The Francophones want to separate and now the debate goes on about whether Quebec should be its own country! All this because of language?!?


  64. Dean -  May 26, 2012 - 6:36 pm

    I understand the way the feel towards Russia and all but why should the language itself be such a problem? I saw the very incident on the BBC the other night, I had to stare and right after then I just laughed to see grown men fighting like that.

  65. lisa -  May 26, 2012 - 5:48 pm

    Language should not be dictated by the state. Let each citizen decide what’s best for them. If speaking a minority language helps or hinders someone’s success, that individual will make the best decision. What’s even the point of having a national language? If you don’t learn the language, will they throw you into jail? Doesn’t seem like a good use of taxpayer money.

  66. pcv -  May 26, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    yay first comment!
    I love both Russian and Ukrainian.

  67. Dominic -  May 26, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Russian and Ukranian should be both together in language as it is in other countries, eg: English, Spanish, Italian, French, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Welsh is spoken in majority of areas in one country. It is pointless to speak only 1 language in such a country by Law, sounds more like being divided and attracting less visitors/settlers unless they learn that language first.

    The Government knows that the majority speak in Russian, yet refused to listen to their people or allow a voting system to dominate their decision, and accept it. It’s the people who made them “Government” after all.


  68. yayRayShell -  May 26, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    The Ukrainian Parliament should allow Russian to be the second official language because communication will be easier among the Ukrainians and more people could interact with society.

    In ancient times, even though this is not about language, I learned about how, for example, Henry of Navarre only made Catholicism the official religion of France to satisfy the common people. However, he did not want to abandon his Protestant followers and allowed them to practice their religion in peace. This therefore promoted unity and peace among the diversity of people.

  69. Mike -  May 26, 2012 - 3:05 pm

    I think and I am sure many people around the world can agree, is that Russian federation always tries to get in other countries internal politics in order to make them weaker and then maybe even maybe break them apart. If look back at history Russia tried and did it many times. It tried spliting up Poland, Germany after WW2, and recently Georgia Rep. It uses its language in the former soviet republics as a fulcrum of it’s strategy, and if that does not work it moves to cutting of gas or oil supply to those countries. It also tries to pretend that those countries robbed oil as its oil passed through them, what a lot of people do not know is that Russian owne Lukoil owns the majority stock in all those Western European countries oil companies and the companies doing the survey to see make sure what was the oil/gas content and quality as it arrived for example in Czech Rep. or Germany after passing through Ukraine. That’s a bit of a conflict of interest if you ask me!

  70. M -  May 26, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    I was happy to see my country as today’s Hot Word, although maybe not in that context. They’ve recently had many strained political meetings. I myself speak Russian, and even as I’m partial toward my home Ukraine, I prefer the sound of Russian. I believe that learning two languages as early as possible–as I have–is essential for mind development. Making Russian a second official language, but not forcing it to be learned, might be the best option. However, I understand how the opposition has vehement feelings ingrained in their souls, and it would be difficult to agree as such.

    Thank you, Hot Word, for today’s topic!

  71. Peej -  May 26, 2012 - 9:59 am

    Lots of interest in this one, eh!

  72. Bonnie -  May 26, 2012 - 8:00 am

    Throughout history, countries have disagreed – this is just a component of human nature and a fact of life. But whenever nations do overtake each other, the most effective (and humiliating) method for the dominant to assert its power over the submissive nation is by forcing its people to speak its language. In this way, the victor controls the loser not just in property and name, but in word and thought – the very essence of the individual – as well.

    This is very likely why the members of the Ukranian Parliament reacted as passionately as they did against Russian being an official language: they do not want to backslide to the oppression they experienced before under Russian rule.

    This kind of control can be very frightening and threatening. However, if this newly-free nation has any hope of emerging as strong and independent, it must be prepared to support ALL of its citizens – by allowing the language of ALL of its people to be recognized as official.
    The members of Parliament must be open-minded enough to realize that just because Russian words will be spoken (in an effort to effectively communicate), that doesn’t mean that Russian ways will automatically creep back into use.

    I truly wish all involved with this scenario the best of luck – please, PLEASE be enlightened enough to step back from this situation and observe it from the outside-looking-in.

  73. May Wee -  May 26, 2012 - 7:24 am

    Canada of course! I can’t think of anything more contentious than the divide between French speaking Quebec and the rest of Canada. What is sad about it is that most of the English speaking population in Canada is reluctant to learn French, even though this is taught in public schools. I love travelling to Quebec for fun and entertainment and try my best to speak the French I had learned in university. But it probably sounds alot like the same broken English spoken by new English speakers, so I can empathize with those who are struggling with English.

  74. mary torres:) lol:) -  May 26, 2012 - 7:20 am

    im frist comment lol

  75. Me -  May 26, 2012 - 6:59 am

    In Québec, language has helped hold a people together and has helped them to keep their culture and their traditions.

  76. Sam Stuart -  May 26, 2012 - 6:39 am

    To be honest, it doesn’t really matter because people who speak Russian will continue to speak and possibly teach Russian to others. No matter what, Russian will live on, with or without the Ukrainian Parliament.

  77. Rustgold -  May 26, 2012 - 5:06 am

    Gee talk about needing to reread what I write.
    sell = steal

  78. Rustgold -  May 26, 2012 - 5:02 am

    Russian is spoken by those brought in by Russia (& before that USSR) to destabilise Ukraine. Language is effectively part of the weaponry use in an attempt to sell back certain areas of Ukraine. In this case, I would support the opposition party’s stance in not wanting Russia as a official language.
    Those who were brought in by Russia in their proxy war can either become proper Ukrainians, or go back to Russia.

  79. شموخ -  May 26, 2012 - 4:58 am


  80. Warle -  May 26, 2012 - 4:54 am

    China – Those of the very south speak Cantonese and basically despise those from other parts of the country, expecially those that speak Mandarin. This is very prevalent in Hong Kong.

  81. Suji -  May 25, 2012 - 8:20 pm

    Yes, The Ukrainian Parliament should allow Russian, in order to respect the people who still speak Russian.
    The languages are the bridge to bring people together. So, the languages which spoken by people should be recognized by authorities.

    For the second question, Sri Lanka is my first choice of example. A Tiny country with the population of 20 million people could not live in peace.


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