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Language Differentiation of Ukraine’s Population

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While people of many nationalities live in Ukraine, Ukrainians and Russians constitute the majority of its population. Territorially, the Ukrainian language is spread unevenly, which results in pronounced bilingualism and language bipolarity. The influence of the Soviet policy of the Russian language dominance is still present in Ukraine. Ukrainian prevails in the sphere of public administration and education. Russian dominates in most mass media. Under such circumstances it is important to maintain conditions for the preservation of the language identity of other ethnic minorities, which would promote the development of linguistic diversity in Ukraine.
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Language Dierentiation of Ukraines
Population
Yevhen Matviyishyn1, Tomasz Michalski2
1National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine
2University of Gdańsk1
Abstract
While people of many nationalities live in Ukraine, Ukrainians and Russians
constitute the majority of its population. Territorially, the Ukrainian language
is spread unevenly, which results in pronounced bilingualism and language
bipolarity. e inuence of the Soviet policy of the Russian language
dominance is still present in Ukraine. Ukrainian prevails in the sphere of
public administration and education. Russian dominates in most mass media.
Under such circumstances it is important to maintain conditions for the
preservation of the language identity of other ethnic minorities, which would
promote the development of linguistic diversity in Ukraine.
Keywords
Ukraine; bilingualism and language bipolarity; language identity; linguistic
diversity; territorial distribution of languages
Introduction
e ongoing conict in Eastern Ukraine connected with emergence of the
so-called People’s republics (Lugansk People’s Republic & Donetsk People’s
Republic) as well as the annexation of Crimea breed a number of questions
related to the impact of various factors, both of an international (see Haukkala
2015, Jonsson & Seely 2015, Marten 2015, Robinson 2016, Roth 2007) and
intra-Ukrainian nature (see Flynn 1996, Kuzio 2003, Peterson & Kuck 2014,
Sotiriou 2016, Swain & Mykhnenko 2007), on the appearance of these
conicts and their changes (see Cavandoli 2016, Korhonen 2015, Ramos &
Kovalenko 2016, Serhiy 2016, Socor 2014).
Cultural diversity in Ukraine, especially national identity, is the most important
element of intra-Ukrainian variation, aecting the initiation ghts in the east
of the country and the annexation of Crimea (Korostelina 2013, Kuzio 1996,
* Yevhen Matviyishyn, Department of Economic Policy and Labor Economics, Lviv Regional Institute
for Public Administration of the National Academy for Public Administration under the President of
Ukraine, Sukhomlynskoho 16, 79491 Briukhovychi-Lviv, Ukraine; emat@ua.fm.
Tomasz Michalski, Department of Regional Development Geography, Institute of Geography, Univer-
sity of Gdańsk, Bażyńskiego 4, 80-309 Gdańsk, Poland; tomasz.michalski@ug.edu.pl.
© 2017 Yevhen Matv iyishyn, Tomasz Mi chalski, pu blished by De Gruy ter Open.
is work i s licensed unde r the Creative Co mmons Attribut ion-NonCommerci al-NoDerivs 3.0 L icense.
Journal of Nationalism, Memory & Language Politics
Volume 11 Issue 2 DOI 10.1515/jnmlp-2017-0008
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Journal of Nationalism, Memory & Language Politics 11(2)
Shulman 1999, 2004, 2006, Stebelsky 2009, van Zon, 2001). Naturally, there
are also other elements, such as religious diversity (Kozelsky 2014, Shabliy
2000), or the linguistic one, whose analysis is the main objective of this study.
e above diversity overlaps with many others, among which political diversity
is particularly important. us W. Ischenko (2016) stresses the inuence of
right-wing political forces on the political transformation in Ukraine. ese
forces have always been stronger in the west of the country (Kuzio 2010). In
turn, A.Haydukiewicz (2011) draws attention to the diversity of pro-Western
and pro-Russian preferences during elections.
e issue of the importance of language in today’s world can be viewed from
many perspectives. According to one of them, a microscale and a macroscale
depiction is possible. In the rst of them we focus on the importance of
language for an individual. A man can own several types of identity (national,
cultural, religious, civil, etc.). In particular, national identity is based on
common origin, religion, language, culture, historical fate, etc. Fundamental
research on national identity was conducted by A.D. Smith. He described
components of the “Western” and the “ethnic” models of the nation: “e
place of law in the Western civic model is taken by vernacular culture, usually
languages and customs in the ethnic model” (Smith 1991, 12).
In the macroscale depiction we focus on the importance of language for the
identication of large groups of the population. e state policy aecting
the creation of language identity is very important in this approach. It
has its peculiarities in totalitarian regimes; in particular, it has to promote
strengthening of political systems (see Váňa 2012). Post-communist states
have dierent experience in language policy implementation. M. Riegl
and T.Vaško (2007) described two types of language policy: inclusive (not
trying to marginalize the languages of ethnic minorities, either legislatively
or practically) and exclusive (being its opposite by obvious promoting of
the language of the majority/authorities), with several derivative subtypes.
e authors are convinced that this often controversial classication can
spark further academic discussion about the actual language policies in
post-Soviet countries. In the Slovak Republic a catalogue of language rights
of minorities was created which became part of the binding law (Škrobák
2009). e Georgian experience of the state language implementation in the
educational sphere shows that aspirations of language minorities to preserve
their authenticity must be taken into account (Kopečková 2012). Unlike in
other post-communist countries, in Belarus the majority of the population
do not consider the language issue as too pressing, although Russian clearly
dominates there (Volakhava 2010).
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In addition, we must also bear in mind that implementation of the rules of
a liberal state fosters freedom also in the realm of language. However, in the
case of Ukraine (as well as neighbouring Russia) there has been a decline
in the popularity of these ideas. is is a consequence of two processes: an
increase in social demand for a “caring” state (the preservation of a strong
social state) and redirecting the authorities’ concern to build identity by
promoting national values (the latter trend embraces the national cultural
and historic traditions as the basis for social integration and a new collective
identity) (Kiryukhin 2016). In the case of Ukraine, the existence of “post-
Soviet identity” strongly related to the Russian language is an additional
complicating factor (Hołowko 2013). It occurs especially frequently in the
east of the country.
In Ukraine a deformation of the linguistic and cultural space took place,
manifesting itself in the spread of two languages used both in mass media
and in social interaction (see Bester-Dilger 2009, Kulyk 2006, Ryabinska
2017). Hence the second objective of the study is an analysis of the language
structure in selected mass-media.
Naturally, language problems in Ukraine do not apply only to the bipolar
system the Ukrainian language – the Russian language. To show the situation
of languages spoken by small minorities, the case study of the Kirimli
language is discussed.
What the gures show
Data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the results of the all-Ukrainian
population censuses of 1989 and 2001 and opinion surveys as well as
publications of researchers in the eld of linguistic diversity constitute the
information basis of the research. Although the United Nations recommends
conducting population censuses every 10 years, there were problems in
Ukraine with organization of scheduled censuses. By Order of the Cabinet
of Ministers of Ukraine of 2008, a new census was set for 2011. In 2010
the census was postponed to 2012. en the census was postponed further
to 2013 and 2016. e reasons for the delays were unspecied, but mass
media mentioned a lack of funds for conducting population census as well
as authorities’ reluctance to cause social unrest before the planned elections.
Finally, in December 2015 the census was scheduled for 2020 (Order of the
Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 16.12.2015 [Rozporiadzhennia…,
2015]). us, the last reliable detailed data on the language structure of the
Ukraine’s population is as of 2001. Still there are reservations as to the quality
of identifying the notion mother tongue (ridna mova) (Arel 2002). More
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recent data appears in some sociological studies, but they are less detailed
than the population census results.
Although the population of Ukraine mainly speaks Ukrainian and Russian,
its language composition is quite diverse. Information on the distribution of
Ukraine’s population by the native language, based on the results of the all-
Ukrainian population census of 2001, is given in Table 1.
Table1. Distribution of the population of Ukraine by the native language, 2001
Claimed as the native language Percentage in overall population
Ukrainian 67.53
Russian 29.59
Crimean Tatar 0.48
Moldavian 0.38
Hungarian 0.34
Romanian 0.30
Bulgarian 0.28
Belarusian 0.12
Armenian 0.11
Gagauz 0.05
Romani 0.05
Polish 0.04
German 0.01
Slovak 0.01
Jewish 0.01
Greek 0.01
another language 0.30
language was not specied 0.42
Tota l 100.00
Source: Dani perepysu nasekennia 2001.
Not all Ukrainians claimed the Ukrainian language was their native language.
Some of those who identify themselves as Ukrainians speak Russian (Arel
2002). According to the previous all-Ukrainian population census (1989),
there were 72.7% of Ukrainians, 22.1% of Russians, and according to
the census of 2001 – 77.8% and 17.3% respectively. us the number of
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Ukrainians increased over the time period between the censuses. is can be
explained, in particular, by the fact that those who were born in Ukrainian-
Russian families, in 2001 identied themselves as Ukrainians, which meant
a change of their ethnic self-identication (Skliâr 2008). Understandably, it is
much easier to recognize one’s Ukrainian ethnic origin than to master the lost
language as the native one.
Territorially, the Ukrainian language is spread unevenly. Fig.1 illustrates the
distribution of the population of Ukraine by the Ukrainian language as the
native one, based on the results of the all-Ukrainian population census of
2001.
Fig.1. Distribution of the population of Ukraine by the Ukrainian language as
the native language; Source: based on the data Dani perepysu nasekennia 2001.
e survey conducted in 2013 by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology
showed that Ukrainian was claimed to be a native language of 56.2% of
respondents, Russian – of 39.6%, other languages – of 3%, no opinion was
given by 1.2%. e study surveyed 2,760 respondents aged over 18 years
old who lived in dierent regions of Ukraine. e statistical sampling error
did not exceed 2.8% (KIIS 2013). ese results show that the spread of the
Ukrainian language between 2001 and 2013 did not increase.
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e mass media must be oriented on the population language structure.
erefore, the spread of languages in daily use can be judged by the list of
newspapers published in Ukraine. e distribution of newspapers according
to the languages in which they were published in 2015 is given in Table2.
Analysing it, one can conclude that the share of Russian-language titles in
2015 (30% of the total plus 10% of bilingual Russian-Ukrainian titles) reects
the number of the population who declared Russian as their native language
in the census in 2001.
Table2. Distribution of newspapers according to the languages of their publica-
tion in 2015
Types of
newspapers
Number of publications
Total including in the language
Ukrainian
Russian
Ukrainian
and Russian
Hungarian
Polish
Romanian
English
German
Bilingual
Multilingual
National 271 149 99 15 –––23–3
Regional 265 171 57 35 –1–––1–
City 292 156 103 32 –––1–––
District 390 342 14 28 1–3––2–
Press of
institutions 105 62 27 16 –––––––
Private 267 85 147 30 31–––1–
Promotional 162 75 64 23 –––––––
Other 94 29 46 14 11–––12
Tota l 1846 1069 557 193 5333355
Source: Zasoby masovoi informatsii ta knyhovydannia v Ukraini u 2015 rotsi,
2016, p.10.
Although Ukrainian-language publications prevail in the number of
publications, the same cannot be said about the issue size. Russian-language
periodical print publications prevail over the Ukrainian-language ones in
view of their circulation (Table 3). It follows from its analysis that in 2014
the circulation of books and brochures in Russian amounted to 40% of all
print in Ukraine. In the case periodical and continued publications (except
newspapers) this was as much as 86%, and in the case of newspapers 66%.
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Table.3. Non-periodical, periodical and continued publications in Ukraine in
the Ukrainian and Russian languages in 2014–2015
Types of publications
2014 2015 (as of 30.10)
Number of
publications,
printed items
Circulation,
thousands of copies
Number of
publications,
printed items
Circulation,
thousands of copies
Books and brochures: 22 044 55 312.0 13 543 21 337.2
in Ukrainian 14 145 30 404.7 9 268 11 696.5
in Russian 5 629 22 049.1 2 996 8 868.8
Periodical and con-
tinued publications
(except newspapers):
3 165 513 289.1 2 163 126 2 47.6
in Ukrainian 1 229 50 936.2 845 24 455.7
in Russian 581 439 270.7 335 92 959.3
Newspapers: 2 169 2 720 794.9 1 638 1 321 512.9
in Ukrainian 1 141 801 830.4 980 460 376.6
in Russian 792 1 796 038.9 466 80 8 157. 2
Source: State Committee for Television and Radio-Broadcasting of Ukraine,
2015.
e data given in Table 2 and Table 3 show that among all print publications
most copies are printed in Russian. e same is true for other mass media.
V. Kulyk (2006) thus explains the existing situation by the fact that the
authorities failed to support Ukrainian-language newspapers or programmes,
e.g. in the form of tax leverages, in competition with Russian-language ones,
in the same vein as they did with national products vs. those imported from
Russia. Analysis of the Internet also showed the predominance of Russian-
language information websites. Since the Russian language is understandable
by the absolute majority of Ukrainians, the biggest e-retailers do not translate
their websites into Ukrainian and, furthermore, legislation does not require
them to. e Ukrainian language dominates in Ukrainian online space only
in the sphere of education and public administration (Texty 2016). Generally,
Russian dominates in the majority of Ukrainian mass media.
Researchers draw attention to the complex intertwining of political, religious
and language opinions of the Ukrainian population (see Gentile 2015). S.
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Melnyk and S. Chernychko (2010) generalized the research results concerning
the ethno-linguistic composition of the population of Ukraine: (1) Ukrainian-
speaking Ukrainians (40–45% of the population); (2) Russian-speaking
Ukrainians (30–34% of the population); (3) Russian-speaking Russians (20–
21%); speaking other languages (3%). In some regions quite signicant part
of the population identied themselves as neither Ukrainians nor Russians:
in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (17.4% by nationality, and 12.9%
by language), in the Chernivtsi Region (20.9% and 19.6%), the Zakarpattia
Region (17.0% and 16.1%), and the Odessa Region (16.5% and 11.8%). A
signicant spread of the Russian language is caused by the stereotype that has
been applicable since the Soviet Union (Bernsand 2014). “Among large parts of
the urban population of Ukraine, the Russian language enjoys higher prestige
than the Ukrainian one, with many Russians being openly contemptuous of
Ukrainian as a ‘vulgar peasant dialect’” (Farmer 1978, 126). e percentage
of Ukrainians who claimed Ukrainian to be their native language gradually
decreased in the Soviet Union period. ese circumstances resulted in a
situation where part of the population uses a mixture of both languages called
“surzhyk”. Five major categories of surzhyk are dened: (1) urbanized peasant
surzhyk, (2) village dialect surzhyk, (3) Sovietized-Ukrainian surzhyk, (4)
urban bilinguals’ surzhyk, and (5) post-independence surzhyk (Bilaniuk
2004). It is more often used by ethnic Ukrainians (14%) than by ethnic
Russians (5%). Furthermore, surveys show signicant regional dierences in
the use of surzhyk: from 2.5% in the Western and 9.6% in the Eastern region
to as much as 21.6% in the East-Central region (Khmelko 2004). Generally,
the population of Ukraine mainly speak Ukrainian and Russian.
Bilingualism risks and language bipolarity in Ukraine
e ethnocultural diversity is inherent to many countries in the modern
world. e events of the 20th century were the inuential historical
background for its formation in Ukraine (Dnistrianskij 2008). In particular,
in the Soviet Union period demographic and migration processes took place
that had a signicant impact on the ethnic structure of Ukraine’s population.
ose factors included Holodomor of 1932–1933 (a man-made famine that
killed an estimated 4–10 million people mainly in the village territories of
the central and north-eastern regions of the country), relocation of village
families from Belarus and Russia to Ukraine, World War II (an estimated
5–7 million people were killed), the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944
(approximately 200 thousand people), the so-called “exchange of population”
between Ukraine and Poland during 1944–1951 (approximately 1.2 million
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Yevhen Matviyishyn, Tomasz Michalski, Language Dierentiation...
people were relocated in dierent directions (Myshchak 2010, 9), deployment
of substantial military forces there, resettlement of mainly young people from
Ukraine to Kazakhstan and other regions of the Soviet Union to develop
virgin lands and construct industrial enterprises (over 650 thousand people
left Ukraine during 1953–1969) (Romantsov 2004, 73–74). Dynamic
changes of interstate borders took place in the rst half of the 20th century in
the territory of the modern Zakarpattia Region.
For Ukraine the ethnocultural diversity is evidenced rst of all in the
dominance of one ethnic minority, i.e. the Russian one, over others. It is
expedient, therefore, to talk about bilingualism in Ukraine. At least 70% of
population speak uently both Ukrainian and Russian (National Academy of
Sciences of Ukraine 2008). Bilingualism in Ukraine is manifested not only
in the dominance of the two languages in comparison to others, but also in
their uneven territorial spread. Researchers point out the language bipolarity
problem in Ukraine (Matsneva 2014). is situation inuences further
development of the country, in particular, in the direction of European
integration.
While bilingualism is not a negative phenomenon in stable societies, the situation
is quite dierent in Ukraine. On the one hand, after gaining independence
in 1991, patriotic forces considered the revival and spread of the Ukrainian
language to be an uncompromising task. On the other hand, the political forces
in the regions where the Russian language prevails incite the population to
resist the assimilation of languages under the slogan of the Russian language
protection. ese circumstances result in bipolarity in Ukraine (Arel 1995,
Bocale 2016, Katchanovski 2016).
Some politicians suggest including the language bipolarity of Ukraine
in law. ey support the idea of cultural federalization, which is based on
simultaneous existence and development of both the Ukrainian and Russian
languages. To this end, they suggest incorporating into legislation a provision
to the eect that the regions of Ukraine are to decide independently on which
language is of higher priority for them to give it the ocial status (Bill 4008,
2014). e terms “the state language” (ukr. depžavna mova) and “the ocial
language” (ukr. ofìcìjna mova) are identical in Ukraine, which follows from
the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (Rishennia… 1999) and
both are equally often used in the ocial discourse. In countries with a federal
structure (for example, Switzerland) the status of the ocial language is
determined both at the national and regional levels. In Slovenia, although it is
not a federation, Italian and Hungarian are established as ocial languages in
some municipalities (Novak-Lukanovič & Limon 2012). In our opinion, such
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Journal of Nationalism, Memory & Language Politics 11(2)
an approach is unacceptable for Ukraine, because it will incite estrangement
and strengthen separatist public sentiments in the regions where the Russian
language prevails. is constitutes a threat to the integrity of the state, which
has already been suering from conicts supported by the Russian Federation
in eastern Ukraine.
e approach, according to which population dierentiation by language is
not considered a serious problem, is worth mentioning. It is called the “ethno-
socio-cultural integration” (Matsneva 2014, 19). Showing tolerance to each
other, people speak languages of each other. e population which is in the
“aura” of a certain ethno-national community gradually acquires its features.
is occurs most rapidly at an early age. erefore, the school education
system is critical here. e number of students at schools according to the
languages of study is given in Table4. Upon graduation, students take the
so-called “external independent testing”. e tests for this education quality
evaluation are prepared in the state language. At individual request, tests can
be translated into a regional language or a minority language, except for the
test in the subject “Ukrainian Language and Literature” (Law 5029 2012).
e regional language is understood here as a language used in a certain area
of the state by its citizens who form a group that is smaller in number than the
rest of the state population.
Data given in Table 4 shows that the distribution of youth studying in the
Ukrainian mostly corresponds to the distribution of population by the
Ukrainian language as the native one, as indicated in Table 1 and Figure 1.
Peculiarities of the spread of Turkic languages in Ukraine
Speakers of Turkic languages live in the South of the Donetsk Region (Urums
– Turkic-speaking Greeks), in the Kherson Region (Crimean Tatars in the
Henichesk District, Meskhetian Turks – mainly in the Chaplynka District),
in Odessa, Mykolaiv, Donetsk and other southern regions (Gagauz – mainly
in the southern part of the Odessa Region) (Demchenko 2014). e majority
of Turkic-speaking population live in the territory of the Crimean Peninsula.
In the early 1990s Crimean Tatars (historical name – Kirimli) returned to the
territory of Ukraine, mainly to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. eir
number there in 2001 was over 240,000 people (12% of the population).
At the beginning of the 2013–2014 academic year 5,551 students studied
in the Crimean Tatar language in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea
(Zahalnoosvitni navchalnii zakłady… 2014, 61). More recent information
was not published by the State Statistics Service of Ukraine due to the
annexation of this territory by the Russian Federation in 2014. Starting
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Table4. Distribution of students of general education institutions by the languages of study as of at the beginning of 2016/17
academic year
Regions of Ukraine languages of study*
Ukrainian Russian Romanian Hungarian Polish English Slovak Bulgarian Moldavian
Vinnytsia 152 4 85 536 - - - - - - -
Voly n 128 581 181 - - - - - - -
Dnipropetrovsk 247 229 58 912 - - - - - - -
Donetsk 89 243 60 709 - - - - - - -
Zhytomyr 127 732 602 - - - - - - -
Zakarpattia 137 122 1 441 2 686 16 020 - - 145 - -
Zaporizhia 116 879 38 130 - - - - - - -
Ivano-Frankivsk 146 537 439 - - 449 - - - -
Kyiv 189 388 1 018 - - - - - - -
Kirovohrad 88 399 1 341 - - - - - - -
Luhansk 33 653 18 032 - - - - - - -
Lviv 257 394 2 597 - - 910 - - - -
Mykolaiv 99 905 8 297 - - - - - - -
Odessa 168 655 71 754 - - - - - 61 2 693
Poltava 124 836 1 604 - - - - - - -
Rivne 148 047 - - - - - - - -
Sumy 88 227 3 426 - - - - - - -
Ternopi l 104 975 117 - - - - - - -
Kharkiv 166 854 62 051 - - - - - - -
Kherson 87 774 15 776 - - - - - - -
Khmelnytskyi 126 930 125 - - 426 - - - -
Cherkasy 108 568 863 - - - - - - -
Chernivtsi 83 705 299 13 453 - - - - - -
Chernivtsi 91 014 340 - - - - - - -
Kyiv City 262 653 7 365 - - - 379 ---
Ukraine 3 376 785 355 955 16 139 16 020 1 785 379 145 61 2 693
* e information is given exclusive of the temporary occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Source: Zahalnoosvitni navchalnii zaklady…, 2017, p.61.
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from 2014, the so-called “government of Crimea” has been pursuing an all-
encompassing program of linguistic assimilation, which ultimately sends a
message that minority languages are unimportant and unnecessary (Bocale
2016). e conditions for the development of minority languages in Crimea
have worsened since then.
e Kirimli language and four more Turkic languages, which Gagauz,
Crimean Karaites, Krymchaks and Urums speak, were listed as endangered
languages by the UNESCO (Dryga & Syrinska 2015). In order to improve
conditions for their development, their status should be monitored, which
is, however, hard to do in the context of the annexation of Crimea by the
Russian Federation. Over the years of their living in Ukraine, the Kirimli
have developed their mass media: radio, television, print publications, etc.
(Žídková & Melichar 2015). Ukraine can improve the situation of Turkic
languages by improving its legislation. One of the positive steps will be a
legal regulation on the status of indigenous people in Ukraine (Merzhvynskyi
2017), which would ensure that the quota for the use of the languages of these
peoples will not be cut in mass media.
Conclusions
e attitude towards the languages at the level of state policy changes together
with power shifts. e inuence of the Soviet policy of the Russian language
dominance is still present in Ukraine. After gaining independence by Ukraine,
the Ukrainian language gained an opportunity to become a fully-edged
state language. However, territorially, it is spread unevenly, which is reected
in pronounced bilingualism and language bipolarity. ese circumstances
were among the main endogenic factors of the outbreak of an armed conict
in Eastern Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian
Federation. In order to prevent similar negative processes in other regions of
Ukraine, it is necessary to take measures, which would combine both creating
conditions for the strengthening of the Ukrainian language as the state one
and promoting the development of minority languages (due to the lack of
nancial resources, this remains mainly in the declarative sphere). ere
are preconditions for the whole population of Ukraine to speak the state
Ukrainian language uently, irrespective of one’s nationality. Simultaneously,
the development of other languages must not be stied. e engagement of
Ukrainian entities in the ELEN (European Language Equality Network)
would be a signicant step. e processes of “ethno-socio-cultural integration”
of the Russian-speaking population in dierent regions of Ukraine deserve
great attention and further development.
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The “Russian Spring,” which was taken up in Donetsk and Luhansk as the struggle for the Donbas, led to the loss of the territory for both Ukraine and Russia. Although many blame Moscow for starting the war in the region, the key role was played by processes that took place within Ukraine. Violent revolution led to the government's loss of its monopoly on the use of force, polarized public opinion and produced counter-mobilization among its opponents. Oligarchs in Donbas hedged their bets trying to deal both with the new authorities and their local challengers. Members of security forces from the Donbas considered the new government illegal and supported separatism. Miscalculations by the government allowed the separatist movement room to consolidate, while the indiscriminate use of force by government troops increased support for the movement among the population. Russia exploited these developments, but did not play a determining role in them.
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This paper studies the sources of the Russia–Ukraine conflict. The prerequisites for this conflict began when, in Ukraine and Russia, the liberal tendencies that emerged after the collapse of the USSR gave way to conservatism. The differences between the current state ideologies of the two countries are demonstrated through a comparative analysis of 16 Russian and Ukrainian school history and literature textbooks. This enables us to see that the Ukrainian ideological project focuses on building a political community on the basis of national cultural traditions (nation-building project), whereas mainstream Russian political discourse focuses on building strong state institutions (state-building project). Additionally, the Russian ideology considers the Ukrainian and Russian peoples to be parts of a single social and cultural community, whereas the Ukrainian nation-building ideology regards Russia as the hostile Other. Thus, the Russia–Ukraine conflict will continue, with various degrees of intensity, in many spheres.