President Yanukovych today hosted a meeting of 'intellectuals' to discuss the notorious and controversial language bill. Those present at the meeting included ex-President Kravchuk, the rector of Kyiv's Shevchenko National University Leonid Huberskiy, the poet Ivan Drach, director of the Ukrainian Language Institute Pavlo Hrytsenko and Head of the Cultural Society 'Prosvita', MP Pavlo Movchan. 

Reports from the meeting are rather confused. The author, Dmytro Stus, said that those present voiced their concerns about the bill and that the President said that significant amendments would be made to the bill before it became law. However, Hanna Herman, the President's chief adviser, said that the President would sign the bill and then propose amendements to it, which would be put before Parliament in September and which would deal with all the concerns that have been raised.

The President has proposed that the Cabinet of Ministers, along with the participants in today's meeting, should form a Commission to develop amendments to the bill and will invite Kivalov and Kolesnichenko - as authors of the original deeply flawed bill - to join the work of the Commission . In a further extraordinary move, he has asked the Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov (who has previously called on the Ukrainian media to 'embrace the beautiful Russian language') to formulate a programme to support and develop the Ukrainian language.

Hanna Herman told journalists that the amendments to the bill, together with the programme to develop the Ukrainian language, will remove all threats to the Ukrainian language...

The President is also reported to be seeking the views of legal experts on the constitutional position - even though one of his advisers, Maryna Stavniychuk, has already said that the bill violated several clauses of the Ukrainian Constitution and did not accord with the European Charter on minority languages.

Although it is, of course, welcome that the President has become a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian language, we will be watching closely to see whether this is a real conversion, or whether he sees this as the way to undercut the opposition (who have not so far commented on today's events) in their traditional heartlands of Western Ukraine.

For more on this story in Ukrainian, click here or here and in English here.


Ukrayinska Dumka


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