Constitutional Court once again refuses to examine the language law


Ukrainska Pravda reports, quoting an unnamed source, that the Constitutional Court has for the third time refused to open proceedings over submissions to find provisions of the Law on the Principles of State Language Policy unconstitutional.  The Court on Tuesday apparently decided to refuse to initiate proceedings after considering the submission from the Lviv City Council for the last six months.

The Court explains its refusal as being that the issues of the constitutional submission are not within the Court’s competence, and that the text of the application does not comply with the provisions of the law.

The Lviv City Council was the first to make a submission, back in August last year. This year already, the Constitutional Court has refused to consider both a submission from 51 MPs and one from the Lviv Regional Council.

This leaves one submission from 51 MPs asking that the entire Law be found unconstitutional.  Ukrainska Pravda, however, quotes its own sources again in predicting that this last application will also be rejected.

Given the very widespread protest over the law last year, with many legal experts quite clear in condemning it as unconstitutional, the stand taken by the Constitutional Court must at very least raise eyebrows.

While the Constitution states very clearly that Ukraine has one official language – Ukrainian, the law officially submitted by two Party of the Regions MPs – Serhiy Kivalov and Vadim Kolesnychenko effectively bypasses this, giving Russian equal status in much of the country.  

How this can be outside the competence of the Constitutional Court is quite unclear.

The ruling party has tried to present the bill as meeting the needs of national minorities, however authoritative bodies have come out saying that it does quite the contrary.

The Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine [VAAD0 issued a statement which included the following:

“the vote in the Verkhovna Rada on the draft Law on the Principles of State Language Policy has, we believe, shattered public consensus regarding the language issue, led to civic confrontation and is first and foremost an attempt to gain extra votes.

VAAD feels compelled to state that in our view the draft bill does not resolve the problems faced by national minorities, while instead breaching both Ukraine’s Constitution and the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages and the Framework Conference on National Minorities.

There are indeed languages in Ukraine which require state support, however this is not Russian, but Crimean Tatar, Gagauz, Roma, Karaim and Krymchak, Urum and Rumeisk languages, as well as Yiddish. It is these as minority languages which the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages protects. European legislation upholds linguistic diversity and is aimed at protecting disappearing languages.

The bill voted in will free the hands of those who are trying to totally remove the Ukrainian language from use in the regions where more than 10% of the population speak another language.  We are convinced that this is a crime against the Ukrainian language.

The authors of the draft bill are fighting for a situation where citizens don’t speak Ukraine, don’t study it or use it, instead giving significant preferential treatment ot the Russian language. You cannot resolve the language problems of national minorities in this way.

It should also be noted that the draft Law on the Principles of State Language Policy has not received an unequivocally positive assessment either among national minorities or among the Ukrainian public as a whole. Furthermore Ukraine’s national minorities have not once discussed this draft bill in open, have not heard the arguments of its authors, and have not expressed their own views and comments.

The draft law poses a threat to Ukrainian society since it disregards the State status of the Ukrainian language, does not protect minority languages at risk and arouses dissent and tension in Ukrainian society.

The National Communities of Ukraine wish for integration into Ukraine’s civil society. They wish to build a shared home which will not be destroyed for the sake of opportunistic interests.

More information about those who objected to the language law, many condemning it as unconstitutional, can be found in Yanukovych’s record-breaking legislative feat

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