New publishing law removes important protection for Ukrainian


In a statement signed by Myroslav Marynovych, Andriy Kurkov and Mykola Ryabchuk, the Ukrainian PEN Centre expresses its concern over a draft bill “On Publishing” which Prime Minister Azarov has submitted to parliament. The bill proposes, among other things, to abolish current norms which oblige the government to promote translation of foreign literary and scientific literature into Ukrainian.

“The PEN Centre would draw the public’s attention to the clear historical parallel to the Ems Ukaz issued by Alexander II in 1876. That decree did acknowledge the existence of original literature in “the little-Russian dialect”, but banned any translations into Ukrainian, or any scientific or educational texts in Ukrainian.

We are forced to remind the Ukrainian government that each developed nation communicates directly with all peoples of the world via translations from other languages into their own. However a nation placed in difficult colonial or post-colonial conditions makes do with the more powerful alien intermediary language.

It is clear that according to the thinking of the country’s present leaders, it is Russian which should remain this language for us.

The bill proposed demonstrates the provincial thinking of its authors, their intellectual limitedness and civic irresponsibility. Like a number of similar laws recently, it ignores the post-colonial situation in Ukraine, retains structural deformation in the socio-cultural sphere and effectively ensures the continuing domination of the former metropolis and the corporate elites linked with it. Such laws not only denigrate a nation, but also delegitimize its leaders as entirely accidental people, incapable of thinking in categories of the national interest.

The Ukrainian PEN Centre calls on parliament to reject a document which would be disastrous for Ukrainian culture. We also call on the public to protest against such irresponsible laws and personally, through their own means, support Ukrainian culture, against the actions of the government which has for several years now been effectively implementing a course bent on its destruction.

Supporting Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian translations, we also support the hope for a civilized, law-based European Ukraine.

Myroslav Marynovych, President of the Pen-Centre

Andriy Kurkov,    Deputy Head

Mykola Ryabchuk, , Deputy Head

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