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Language law prompts most protests in three years

18.07.2012    source:

Protest in Cherkasy very roughly dispersed by the police

The Centre for Public Research reports that despite summer usually being a dead time for socio-political life, the number of protests in Ukraine has broken all records.

In May and June the numbers of protests broke the monthly records for the number of protests in all the time the Centre has been carrying out its monitoring.

In May there were 221 protests around the country; in June – 323.  The Centre recorded 62 negative responses, and 28 positive reactions. 

For comparison, at the peak of the Tax Code protests in November 2010 the Centre recorded 292 protests.

Last week an absolute weekly record for the number of protests during the entire period of monitoring was broken. From 30 June to 6 July there were at least 139 protests with 27 negative and 19 positive reactions recorded.  This makes an average of 20 protests a day against around six in 2011.

A major contributing factor was, of course, the adoption of the Law on the Principles of State Language Policy with two thirds of the protests last week against this. The protests were most numerous in the following oblasts: Lviv - 16 protests; Ivano-Frankivsk  - 9; Kharkiv – 6; Rivne – 6; Transcarpathian – 5; while in Kyiv itself there were 9 protests.   There was a high level of involvement from political parties which took part in 68% of the protests last week.  This was against overall involvement in only 34% of all protests during 2011.

On the other hand the overall number of protesters over the language law was not high.  In 44% of the protests last week there were less than 100 people, while 34% of the protests did not give figures at all. For the whole of 2011 there was a similar percentage (45%) of such protests with less than 100 participants.

The Centre suggests that the high degree of mobilization of political parties and small number of participants in protests over the language law demonstrates that politicians have an interest in hyping up the issue while there is a low level of interest among ordinary citizens in taking an active part in such protests.

The Centre for Public Research has been carrying out such monitoring since September 2009. The Centre is an independent and non-profit making organization which studies civic movements, educational and urban development policy, the working class and poverty issues. 

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