51% of Ukrainians are against making Russian a State language


One of many protests over the language policy law which strengthens the position of Russian. This one, in Cherkasy, was very roughly dispersed by the police

According to the same Rating Group public opinion survey 41% supported Russian being made a State language while 8% were undecided.  While most media headlines focus on this being a majority against Russian as a state language, it would be rash for opponents of such a move to feel triumphant.  The ruling Party of the Regions, and the President, have consistently supported Russian being made a state language and last year’s language law came as close to making this possible as they could without a constitutional majority.  The recently passed Law on a National Referendum could very easily be used to vote precisely on this issue.  This law is dangerously short of regulations about how questions are formulated.  It  contains a number of the features which so compromised the recent parliamentary elections and vote count, while lacking vital elements such as mechanisms for ensuring that all sides are heard, preventing the use of administrative resource etc.  Nor, incidentally, is there any turnout stipulation: a simply majority of those who came to vote could swing the decision.  (More information about this law here Bypassing the Constitution amd the links below)

Main support for two state languages came from the Donbas area – 75%. In the southern oblasts there was 72% support while in eastern oblasts 53%.

Almost 90% of respondents in western oblasts were against Russian as a State language;

In Central and Northern Ukraine nearly 70% opposed such a move.

There was something of a divide in age, with older people more likely to support two state languages.

Interestingly, while the percentage of those for and against Russian as a State language had been roughly equal over the last two years, support for Russian as a State language fell radically especially in the second half of 2012;  The survey suggests a link with the language law which was signed into force despite very strong protest and which seriously strengthens the position of the Russian language.

According to a survey carried out by the same company in July 2012 almost 80% said that they had not have any problems using their native language over the previous year.

37% of the respondents believe that Ukrainian needs more protection at legislative level; while half that number – 18% - believe this is needed by Russian.

The survey was carried out between 25 September and 5 October 2012, with 2, 000 respondents over the age of 18 questioned. 

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