New delay to changing controversial Kolesnichenko-Kivalov language law
The two authors of the contentious bill
The Cabinet of Ministers has changed the makeup and is mysteriously trying to reinstate the functioning of a group which has already drawn up measures on developing the use of Ukrainian. Members of the group believe that this is to stall amendments and leave the bill as it is. They insist that the documents already drawn up be e tabled in parliament.
The new head of the group is the Deputy Prime Minister Kostyantin Hryshchenko, replacing Health Minister Raisa Bohatyryova. .
As reported President Yanukovych signed the bill which very significantly increases the role of the Russian language, despite numerous calls to veto it from highly authoritative organizations, including many representing the minority groups whose languages the bill purports to defend. He signed it and immediately stated that he was creating a committee to introduce amendments. This was then divided into two groups. One, headed by Ukraine’s first President, Leonid Kravchuk, drew up amendments to procedure for using languages. For example, the question of whether the language would receive regional language status would only be raised in parliament after the signatures were collected of at least 30% of the members of the territorial community and an application to the Verkhovna Rada from the regional council. At present, the new law allows a language to be declared regional (with equal status to Ukrainian) if there are no less than 10% of the population who speak this language as their first.
The second group drew up a concept framework for measures aimed at the development and functioning of the Ukrainian language up till 2015. These are estimated as needing 600 million UAH.
At the end of December Bohatyryova announced that the group had completed its work and that the documents were ready for assessment.
Members of the group who drew up the concept framework are adamant that there is no need for the group’s work to be restarted. Director of the Shevchenko Literature Institute considers it to be an attempt to drag out the process of making amendments and to leave the law the way it is.
A brief account of the law and links to very many statements of protest can be found here